Everyone meet Lincoln! Lincoln was first known as Marshmallow when he came into our care, and after a brief stint in his foster home was adopted by the family who cared for him. This little wire-haired, old-man-looking puppy was surrendered to us after a family dog had an unwanted litter of puppies, which is a common occurrence for unaltered animals. (Please visit Fredspca.org/PETSPROGRAM for access to low cost spay & neuter!) We did not know who mom or dad was – only that this ball of fluff deserved a home that loved him as much as he’d love them.
Stephanie and her daughter began fostering with the FredSPCA in 2017, and Lincoln was their very first foster, and the only one they’ve adopted! They knew that Lincoln was right for them, and their home and hearts had aligned with Lincoln and all of his antics.
Since adoption, Stephanie, her daughter and Lincoln have fostered 66 animals with us! We are so lucky to have this family as an integral part of our Fred Foster Fam.
So what is Lincoln? A common question Stephanie gets asked. In our care, Lincoln is listed as a mixed breed, as are all of our dogs that come through our doors without DNA paperwork. Why don’t we just guess what they are mixed with based on their appearance? We believe in an “Individual’s First” approach and do not believe breed labeling can determine what adoptable traits a dog has.
Animal Farm explains the Individuals first approach beautifully.
“ All dogs are individuals means: We owe it to all dogs to see them for who they really are, free of prejudice, stereotypes, and assumptions that are based on a known pedigree, a breed label guess, physical appearance, or their past history. Just a small handful of genes will determine how a dog looks on the outside. It’s not even 1% of their genome. And yet, we frequently make enormous, life changing assumptions about dogs based on that 0.25%”
“This set of genes, the ones that determine a dog’s breed associated physical traits, are different that the genetic program that builds the brain. The genetic program responsible for creating the brain is much different and tremendously more complex than the genetic programs that underlie physical traits in dogs. The overwhelming majority of dogs in shelters are mixed breed dogs. Peer reviewed research shows us that visual identification of mixed breed dogs is highly inaccurate. Remember, we can only see 0.25% of their DNA! But even if we do know their breed mix, it doesn’t tell us much about how they’ll behave.”
Please visit Animal Farm HERE to read their full article and see their full infographic!
So with that said, can you determine Lincoln’s breed just by his photo? How about from his personality? Stephanie says “ He loves itty bitty kittens and likes to snuggle them. Puppies are fun for the first few weeks and then he is ready for them to leave because they take mama’s time and attention! His favorites were Cooper the BT and Arrow a timid dog that he became buds with. They were both adult males.
He also was very intrigued by Mama Hoolie giving birth to 3 tiny babies. He would lay by the door and watch from afar. His arch nemesis was mama Spitfire, as she stole my lap and would not share.”
We put it to a vote on social media, and the majority of people commenting said Jack Russell Terrier. Well, Lincoln has 0 % Jack Russell in him! Not one person guessed his dominant breed, and only a handful of people guessed his second breed. If Lincoln’s life depended on this like those in areas with Breed Specific Legislation, a dog like Lincoln could lose their life because of a guessing game.
The ASPCA writes: “There is no evidence that breed-specific laws make communities safer for people or companion animals. Following a thorough study of human fatalities resulting from dog bites, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided to strongly oppose BSL. The CDC cited, among other problems, the inaccuracy of dog bite data and the difficulty in identifying dog breeds (especially true of mixed-breed dogs). Breed-specific laws are also costly and difficult to enforce.”
Using the Embark DNA test, meet LINCOLN:
The Bichon Frise, Beagle, American Pit Bull, Chihuahua, Siberian Husky, Poodle mix.
We hope this shines some light on why the Fred SPCA chooses not to breed label by looks. According to the world, Lincoln is a Jack Russell – according to his DNA he is not, and according to his family, he is a lively old man puppy who loves kittens, snuggling and helping grow confidence in his fellow fosters to find their own family.
There are so many issues that can arise from assessing a dog by looks and assuming it translates into behavior traits. Landlords and apartment complexes can take one unjustified look at your animal and determine they are “dangerous”. Entire communities can ban you from living there peacefully. We hope that sharing information with each other on the complex nature of DNA testing, behaviour traits and breed labeling will stop the stigma! Looks do not equal behaviour, and we believe removing these labels will help vulnerable animals in our community become better matched with the right families. This is why asking us “ what breed “ or “what is ___ ” is often answered with “mixed breed” and an opportunity to speak with one of our Matchmakers to help connect you to the right animal!
Executive Director of the Fredericksburg SPCA, Caitlin Daly wrote a blog in early 2019 about the shift into our Individuals First approach. “Here at the Fredericksburg SPCA, we believe that every animal deserves an equal chance at finding their forever families. We believe that animals should be matched based on individual personality traits to ensure a meaningful and lasting bond. As we move forward into 2019 we will incorporate Matchmakers, a brand new department based solely on these beliefs. Instead of the physical features of an animal, we hope to see more permanent homes based on the factors that matter most.”
If you are looking to add to your home and heart, please stop by our Animal Resource Centre to meet with a Matchmaker and find an animal that best fits your needs!