Metro Animal Control is lifting a ban on adoptions for dogs that had been off limits for years, in a major shift in its philosophy and policy.
The change comes after months of pressure and a growing internet petition that criticizes the high euthanization rate at Metro Animal Control.
A current Metro policy bans anyone from adopting pit bulls over concerns the animals are vicious and often used to fight, but for the first time in 15 years, the controversial adoption rule is soon changing.
"I think it's fantastic. It starts changing the landscape and starts recognizing that each dog needs to be looked at as an individual, and not classifying that certain features determines whether a dog lives or dies," said animal advocate Tam Singer, with the Middle Tennessee Pet Resource Center.
More than 10,000 people have signed the petition calling for change at Metro Animal Control, where despite recent record adoptions, the shelter routinely puts down healthy animals because they just don't have the room for them all.
Under the new policy approved by Metro health officials, beginning June 1, people will be able to adopt pit bull puppies, and come September, adult pit bulls can be adopted but only after a behavioral exam.
Animal control staff must also undergo special training.
"That will help us determine aggressiveness or behavior problems that the dog might have," said Billy Biggs, with Metro Animal Control.
Since most of the dogs put down each week are pit bulls, animal advocates say the change is a huge step toward lowering the shelter's kill rate, which is now 78 percent.
"Hopefully it's going to be a big reduction in euthanasia here. Nobody here likes to euthanize things. Hopefully with this program we'll get a lot more dogs adopted out," Biggs said.
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