Organization: Berkeley Animal Care Services
Investigator(s): Anne Runkel, Amelia Funghi and April Stevenson
Grant Amount: $2,500
Project Type: Basic Research
Project Status: Research Complete
Berkeley Animal Care Services (BACS) assessed the accuracy of breed assignment by shelter staff and whether the display of DNA analysis on kennels impacted adoptability. The study found that displaying DNA results tended to improve a dog's adoption potential. Predominant breed assigned by shelter staff was often inaccurate, which is consistent with other studies, and did not increase a dog's adoption potential.
To provide accurate breed identification of shelter animals; to educate shelter staff, volunteers and the general public about breed identification; to examine assumptions about adoptability of dogs based on appearances; and to promote the adoption of shelter dogs based on behavior and suitability for the home rather than appearance.
From June to September 2015, 46 dogs were assigned a breed by BACS staff. Samples were submitted for Wisdom Panel® DNA analysis. Shelter staff assessment was considered to match DNA analysis if one predominant breed was guessed correctly. For the second part of this study, two different surveys were administered to people visiting the shelter (e.g., potential adopters). Surveys contained the same pet photos and document format. One survey displayed dog pictures alongside the DNA and breed data. The second survey displayed dog pictures alongside the breed assigned by BACS shelter staff. In total, 212 people completed the DNA-based breed survey and 209 people completed the guess-based breed survey.
Part 1: Breed Identification
Part 2: Potential Adopter Perception Survey
DNA analysis trended toward improving a dog's adoption potential. Predominant breed assigned by shelter staff was often inaccurate, which is consistent with other studies, and did not increase a dog's adoption potential. BACS recommends providing information about dogs' behavioral characteristics instead of continuing to utilize inaccurate guesses about breed.