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Study: ‘Racialized’ dog names result in longer waits for adoption

A recent study claims that dogs with “racialized” names face longer waits for adoption than canines with white-sounding monikers.

UCLA’s Natasha Quadlin and Bradley Montgomery of Ohio State, both sociologists, note in Social Psychology Quarterly that, like non-human names, perceptions of Black names (such as “Leroy”) are “tied to slower times to adoption, with this effect being concentrated among pit bulls, a breed that is stereotyped as dangerous and racialized as Black.”

“[The] findings demonstrate the remarkable durability of racialized names,” according to the study abstract. “These names shape people’s behavior and their impressions of others even when they are attached to animals—not just humans.”

Rottweilers and Dobermans with black-sounding names also were adopted at slower rates.

Campus Reform noted how various academics jumped on the study as further evidence of American racism. Temple University Center for Anti-Racism Research Director Timothy Welbeck tweeted “WhY iS EveRyTHingG aBOuT rACE? Because everything is about race …”

University of Texas at Austin sociology Professor Chantal Hailey wrote “Anti-blackness is so pervasive it even expands to dog names” and Georgetown public policy Professor Don Moynihan said the study is an “[i]nteresting example of how racialized names still evoke bias even when dealing with non-humans.”

MORE: U. Wisconsin-Madison researchers studying what dogs like watching on television

Interestingly, a year ago The College Fix reported on a University of Denver study which claimed “animal control enforcement and punishment disproportionately hurt people of color.” Things like “rabies vaccination requirements … and investigations of cruelty, abuse and neglect” can “reinforce structural or racial inequities,” according to its researchers (emphasis added).

The same report cited a book by University of California Riverside Sociologist Katja Guenther which noted “certain [animal care] practices that should be interpreted differently depending on the cultural context.” Considering dogs “as resources, whether protective (as in guarding) or financial (as in breeding or possibly fighting)” were noted as practices “inherent to minority racial groups” (again, emphasis added).

So … which sociologist has it right? Are whites who are hesitant about certain breeds (with black-sounding names) racist — or just misinterpreting the “cultural context”?

According to her faculty page, Quadlin’s (pictured) research “examines social inequality in the contemporary United States, with an emphasis on inequality in access and returns to education.” Montgomery’s areas of expertise include “group processes, status [and] identity.”

MORE: ‘Interspecies intersectionality’ theory: ‘Bad’ dogs face marginalization akin to racism

IMAGES: Alberto Clemares Exposito/Shutterstock.com; UCLA screencap

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Dave has been writing about education, politics, and entertainment for over 18 years, including a stint at the popular media bias site Newsbusters. He is a retired educator with over 25 years of service and is a member of the National Association of Scholars. Dave holds undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Delaware.