Unique New York: Examining the impact of breed labels, phenotypic variations, and geography on length of stay in a multi-location New York limited intake animal shelter


New York City (NYC) is a unique area for a shelter welfare as it has limited dog-friendly housing and an abundance of dogs. A common barrier to entry for NYC dog adopters trying to rent apartments is the breed label the shelter assigned to their dog, despite the fact breed labelling is primarily based off intuition and physical appearance. Following research by Gunter, Barber and Wynne (2016) that saw adoption rates at a Florida animal shelter increase following the removal of breed labels from the shelter’s kennel cards, some shelters ceased using breed labels. One was Bideawee, a limited admission shelter with three locations in the greater New York area, including one in NYC. In this study, we looked at if the length of stay (LOS) of dogs at Bideawee changed following the removal of breed labels from adoption cards. Bideawee dog adoption data from 16-month time periods before and after breed labels were removed was compared. The average LOS of a dog at Bideawee decreased 8.3 days once breed labels were removed (Mdn = 19.0) compared to when breed labels were in place (Mdn = 30.3). A Mann Whitney test indicated that this difference was statistically significant U(Nno breed labels = 1259, Nbreed labels = 987) = 386309.5, z = -15.41, p \u3c .001. Dogs with a “green” behavior assessments (on a scale of green, blue, yellow, red) were almost four and a half times more likely to be adopted faster than “red” dogs (HR: 4.495, 95% CI 2.755-7.335, p \u3c .001) before breed labels was removed, but only two times as likely to be adopted faster afterwards (HR: 2.220, 95% CI 1.514-3.254, p \u3c .001). The return rate stayed constant across the two time periods at 6%, despite the sometimes-held belief that without dog labels breed labels will increase. This study provides new insight on dog adoptions and factors impacting LOS in the Greater NYC area and helps evaluate the recommendations on the use of breed labels in shelters. Similar studies should be conducted in open admission shelters to determine if results hold

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City University of New York

Last time updated on 03/04/2020

This paper was published in City University of New York.

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