Unfairly stereotyped pets are in need of homes too

Cupcake at Austin Animal Center (KXAN Photo)
Cupcake at Austin Animal Center (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A sweet, playful dog named Cupcake has been in the Austin Animal Center for almost a year. “Which is too bad,” Miranda Hitchcock with the center says. “She’s going to make somebody so happy.”

Many dogs like Cupcake simply have a “blocky” looking head, leading to unfair stereotypes.

“People think that our blocky headed dogs are going to be different from any other dogs, and they’re just not — they’re the same as any other dog — they just want a nice place to play and hang out. Some of them are more energetic than others, they all want a home and to be loved.”

Hitchcock says people can tell the difference between a German Shepard and a Belgian Malinois, but they can’t tell the difference between a whole set of dogs that have blocky heads.

“So what we see in a lot of news stories is a dog that’s been described as a pit bull is actually not what it’s been labeled as. But, because people lump into one category, we get data that’s not very good, and we end up getting news stories that seem scary, that there’s one breed or one set of breeds attacking people or animals, and when you start going through the data, that just doesn’t seem to be the case,” says Hitchcock.

It’s not always their appearance keeping them from finding a home. Ember has been waiting more than two months for a family.

“Sometimes they’re overlooked — afraid in their kennel, so they just sort of hide, or maybe they bark in their kennel and people just don’t understand it,” Hitchcock explains.

It’s not just dogs that can have extended stays. Grover the cat is an example.

“He’s one of our adolescent cats, so he’s not that cute, cuddly tiny kitten, but this is what that kitten turns into in a couple of months, so sometimes they get overlooked. Even if you’re looking for a kitten, almost every animal here is going to be ready to go on the day Saturday, so this is a great time to come in and find a cat that works for you and them home,” Hitchcock continued.

It might not even occur to you that rabbits need forever homes too. Rabbits like “Carat” are awaiting adoption right now.

Adoption counselor Sheritta Nesbitt says “each bunny is just like a cat or a dog, and they get along pretty well with other pets, you know, as long as other pets are tolerant. All of our rabbits have been spayed or neutered, so they’re ready to go.”

Austin Animal Center hopes all of these pets will find homes during Saturday’s Clear the Shelters event.

Hitchcock encourages everyone to come prepared, “We want people to come in with a list of things they want from their relationship, rather than individual characteristics. So, if they want a couch potato who is going to sit on their lap and cuddle while watching TV, great — we can identify a dog for you,” she said.

“It might be big or small. If you want a running buddy or hiking buddy, or a dog that gets along with your five dogs, we will be able to identify that, but it’s not always the breed or type of dog you’re expecting it to be.”

KXAN is proud to join NBC stations all across the country for Saturday’s event, and hope many of our viewers will give a pet a new forever home, helping us “clear the shelters,” while taking advantage of free or reduced price adoptions.

On Saturday, Aug. 19, be a part of KXAN and NBC’s Clear the Shelters. Nearly 700 shelters across the country are teaming up for Clear the Shelters, a nationwide pet adoption drive that helps find loving homes for animals in need. 

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