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Introspection on the Dubuque Humane Society’s efforts to eradicate breed prejudice



Dubuque, Iowa – Unaware of Athena’s breed, Laura Feipel, a volunteer at the Dubuque Regional Humane Society, adopted her last year.

“I was looking for somebody who’s going to be a good walker for me because I like to walk. Kind of a cuddly dog, a friendly dog,” said Laura Feipel, Athena’s Owner.

The Dubuque Humane Society decided to categorize all of its dogs as large or small mixed breeds a few years ago instead of breed-labeling them.

It stops discrimination based on breed, according to Director of Operations Bri Eickhoff.

“You do have a lot of towns that have breed bans, a lot of times, Pitbulls, German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermanns, kind of those ‘big, scary’ breeds. Even when there’s not a problem at a city level or a county level, you do run into problems where landlords don’t want to have certain types of dogs.” said Eickhoff.

The Iowa House passed a bill to outlaw breed bans in April of last year, but it was never put into action.

However, according to Eickhoff, shelters frequently err when classifying a dog as belonging to a particular breed.

“It only comes up about a third of the time that people even guess the primary breed that comes out of a DNA test… Best of times, it’s a lucky guess if you get it right,” said Eickhoff.

Which precisely describes Athena’s situation.

Her first shelter referred to her as a mix of hounds.

However, the findings of her DNA test indicate that she is mostly an Australian Shepherd. She even has some American Bulldog and Boxer breeds.

Feipel was not taken aback.

“I’ve been around, in my 12 years of volunteering with different shelters, so many dogs, and you can have several dogs of the same breed and they all have different personalities,” she said.

Her goal is to encourage other dog owners to try breed-less dogs by sharing her experience.

“Breed doesn’t matter. It’s the individual dog,” said Feipel.


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