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DNA Testing Helps California Shelter Speed Up Adoption Process
Photo: Eric Risberg

The Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA has been having a hard time finding homes for the numerous Chihuahua mixes that they’ve been taking in lately. A vast majority of them look just like Chihuahuas, meaning none of them really stand out from the rest.

Workers at the shelter, located in Burlingame, California, realized that they would need to get creative if they wanted to place all these look-a-like dogs in forever homes. Scott Delucchi, senior vice president at the shelter, came up with the idea to perform free DNA testing using the slogan “Who’s Your Daddy?

The tests allow pet owners to know the full background of their new family member, and it allows the shelter to come up with some pretty original breed names to make the dogs more appealing to prospective adopters.

DNA Testing Helps California Shelter Speed Up Adoption Process
Photo: dogbreedinfo.com

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In February, they performed DNA tests on 12 of the dogs. Only one came back with inconclusive results, and the other 11 showed combinations that no one at the shelter had ever seen before. All of the 11 dogs that had conclusive test results were placed in homes within two weeks. That’s twice as fast as any 11 small, brown, untested dogs in the past.

The creative names drew people in to visit the dogs. One Chihuahua-Jack Russell terrier-Australian shepherd-collie mix became known as a “Kiwi collier,” and a Yorkshire terrier/beagle mix turned into a “Yorkle.” Likewise, a miniature pinscher-golden retriever-Chihuahua was dubbed a “golden Chinscher.”

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To date, twelve other dogs have been tested and the shelter is currently trying to find homes for the last few in the group. Then they plan on testing another 24 dogs. Over half of the dogs tested so far ended up being Chihuahua mixes.

Delucchi explained that five or six years ago, pit bull mixes had overrun the shelter, but in the last few years it has shifted, and now they are overrun with Chihuahua mixes. Recently, Chihuahua’s have been popular among celebrities and in Hollywood movies. Delucchi believes that is why the mixes are becoming so popular in the area.

Knowing the breeds that make up a mix can give prospective owners insight into the dog’s behavior, common health issues, and whether or not they will be a good mix for the environment and lifestyle of the family. Knowing the dogs full background cuts out a lot of the mystery and helps to decrease the number of dogs that are returned to the shelter.