ORANGE PARK, Fla. — For most pet owners, their four-legged children are an extension of the family tree. Now, thanks to modern technology, they’re able to trace back their pet’s history all the back to its ancestry with a DNA testing kit.
Samantha Snyder found her pet, Liberty, abandoned in Orange park about three years ago. She said she always had suspicions about her exact breed. Besides curiosity, she also wanted t be prepared for any potential health risks.
“I had heard a lot about different mixes that sometimes, they can sometimes get different DNA gene mutations that could cause health issues,” Snyder said. “So that’s also why I was interested in knowing. Was she predisposed to anything?”
Through a program with Liberty’s veterinarian, they were given a DNA testing kit for dogs. Snyder used the kit to get a DNA sample from the dog’s mouth and sent it off to the company. A few weeks later, they received the results.
“We found out she’s perfectly fifty-fifty Husky and American Staffordshire Terrier, or Pitbull,” Snyder said. “So my instincts were right.”
The latest Google Trends map shows more people are buying these dog DNA kits for their pets, with a spike in December 2019.
Action News Jax asked other pet owners in Jacksonville if they would use the kit and most agreed that they would for their own curiosity.
Becky Rosa fosters abandoned dogs in her Ponte Vedra home and has taken in three rescue dogs, two of which had medical disabilities. She said she used the kit to learn more about where her pets came from.
“The Wisdom did give us if they were carriers of a specific trait that would give them a genetic predisposition to certain issues that could be a problem, and all three of mine tested clear on that,” Rosa said.
Some pet owners said they refuse to use these DNA testing kits to prevent any discrimination against their pets. According to Canine Journal, certain breeds can make it harder to get home insurance, like Pit bulls, German Shepherds and Dobermans.
Local shelters ask potential pet owners not to focus on an animal’s breed for adoption, because it can lead to false stereotypes.
“People have a lot of assumptions of, ‘Oh this particular breed might bark a lot. Or this particular breed is good with kids,’ And that’s not necessarily true,” Lindsay Layendecker with the Jacksonville Humane Society said.
Layendecker has not taken a position on dog DNA kits. Instead, she asks pet owners to focus on the individual animal for its personality.
“We want everyone to focus on individual traits,” Layendecker said. “What makes them special as Tucker or Sophie. What makes them great as individuals and not so much worry about what kind of breed they might be.”
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