“We’ll say, ‘He is strong, but he’s sweet. He walks well on a leash,’” Nancy Haynes, the shelter’s behavioral expert said of the animated Louie, a mixed breed who stood to her shoulders as he awaited a treat. “It’s not about the breed. It’s about what we know about him. What we’ve seen.”

Pit bulls, mastiffs, Rottweilers, King Corsos, Dobermans, German shepherds and Chow Chows are surrendered more frequently, and stay longer, than the poodles and retrievers, the shelter staff said. The breeds’ prevalence in low-income households is a factor, particularly as many dog owners lost jobs during the pandemic. Their reputation as dangerous fighting dogs also makes them less adoptable.

“Unfortunately, these bully mixes aren’t the dogs everyone is looking for because of this myth that they are aggressive. Then, when pet owners need to surrender an animal, we don’t have space,” said Ashley Jeffrey Bouck, chief executive of the shelter, which euthanizes animals only with debilitating and painful medical conditions. “When people do want to open their homes to our dogs, insurance can be a reason not to.”

More than a decade ago, Karen and James Porpeglia, of Schenectady County, adopted Cole and Duke, two Dobermans, and searched for property where the dogs could roam on five acres.

They said their insurance company agreed to continue their homeowners’ coverage, until they revealed that the dogs were Dobermans.

Several more companies said no, leaving the family in house limbo, having sold one and purchased another. Finally they landed a policy, but the runaround was frustrating.

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