The city of Minneapolis is now allowing all types of dog breeds to be adopted from city shelters.
Until now, only approved breeds could be adopted, which didn't include breeds like pit bulls and Rottweilers. The city wouldn't turn those dogs away, but they'd instead be placed with approved rescue group partners, KSTP reports.
Animal Care and Control Program Development Coordinator Jeanette Wiedemeier Bower told the Star Tribune that it began limiting the breeds that could be adopted about 15 years ago "when the field of animal welfare was in another realm. ... The [animal control] directors at the time didn’t want to revictimize the dogs" that would come in with violent tendencies and injuries.
The ASPCA says on its website that the pit bull population has increased so rapidly in recent years that shelters struggle to deal with an overflow of these "image-plagued, hard-to-place" dogs. Last year, city officials told KSTP they euthanized 152 dogs – nearly half of them were breeds that were unapproved for adoption.
Pit bulls and similar kinds of dogs that have been referred to as "bully breeds" have gained a lot of negative attention in recent years, which has resulted in many apartment complexes, neighborhoods and even counties imposing bans on them, citing them as "inherently dangerous" to the public, the ASPCA says.
The ASPCA adds that these types of breeds often attract the "worst kinds of dog owners" who are only interested in fighting or protection, which adds to the bad rep they get.
Pit bull and Rottweiler lovers have always passionately defended the breeds, saying dogs shouldn't be targeted based on breed labels or physical appearance. Advocates also say the breed isn't violent, it's people who do the wrong thing with them that can make any dog violent.
“We feel that all dogs, regardless of their breeds, should be evaluated as individuals,” Michelle Klatt of A Rotta Love Plus told the Star Tribune. “We feel this [new ordinance] is a positive change.”
The new ordinance will also allow for behavioral testing to determine if a dog is adoptable and if it's a good fit with a new owner, which wasn't available before, KSTP says. Officials note that dogs that have a history of biting people or other dogs aren't put up for adoption.
To kick off this new adoption initiative, Minneapolis Animal Care and Control put several pit bull puppies up for adoption on its website.