New adopters often find themselves bringing home the cutest or friendliest shelter pup they meet, rather than one that may be perfect for their lifestyle.
In order to prevent certain pets from being overlooked due to their breed, age, size or demeanor, the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando has taken a page from the Harry Potter novels.
Their “Pawgwarts” sorting system labels dogs by the toys they pick and how they behave in play groups, rather than their superficial traits.
“It has become a national conversation,” Stephen Bardy, executive director of the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando, told The Orlando Sentinel. “We have to get people to think about what they really want in a dog, what really fits with their lives — instead of having them just walk in and say, ‘I want a golden retriever puppy.’”
Studies have shown that 70% of mixed breed dogs are mislabeled in shelters. Not only can this create unnecessary prejudices in adopters, it also fails to tell them anything about whether a pooch is a good fit for their home.
As Potter fans know, the “sorting hat” employed by the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry sees each student’s true self and places them into the house that best fits their personality, be it Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin.
The new “Pawgwarts”-style kennels are desgned to do the same – minus the magical sorting hat, of course. The shelter staff may be mere muggles, but they possess the canine knowledge necessary to arrange the pups into their proper houses. Here’s how they do it:
“A dog who takes to learning obedience cues or quickly figures out a puzzle toy has the KNOWLEDGE of a Ravenclaw,” the Pet Alliance blog reads. “A small dog who has the determination to climb the agility A-Frame possesses the AMBITION of Slytherin house. Our affectionate happy-to-know-you dogs embody the FRIENDLINESS of a Hufflepuff and a dog who embraces change and new things has the BRAVERY known to all Gryffindors.”
The program has only been in effect for a few weeks, so it is too early to tell how it will impact adoption rates, but early feedback from shelter visitors has been extremely positive.
“We hear people say, ‘Oh, he’s a Hufflepuff! I’m a Hufflepuff!’” Bardy says. “On the surface, it sounds frivolous, but at the end of the day it has a serious, thoughtful purpose behind it. We can now start talking about these dogs in a very different way.”
Like many shelters across the country, Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando takes in a large number of muscular, blocky-headed dogs categorized as “Pit Bulls” for lack of a more accurate term. Bardy and his team hope that removing such labels will allow potential adopters to look past the stigma and see a dog for what he truly is.
Want to find out which house your pup would be sorted into? Take the Pet Alliance’s quiz here!
H/T to The Orlando Sentinel
Featured Images via Facebook/Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando