Harry Potter fans generally fantasise about two things while reading the books: which house you belong to and what your magical companion would be. While Hedwig and Crookshanks are (unfortunately) imaginary, the Muggles behind the Pet Alliance of Greater Orlando have conjured up magical creatures of their own through their latest initiative, Pawgwarts.
Paying homage to J.K. Rowling, this shelter takes inspiration from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, sorting animals into four houses based on personality. Each dog's allocated house – Gryffindog, Hufflefluff, Ravenpaw and Sloberin – are displayed above the kennel in a bid to challenge the stigma surrounding certain breeds.
“We want people to look at the dog for their behaviour and what their talents are,” says Stephen Bardy, the executive director at Pet Alliance.
Source: Pet Alliance
Although a bewitched sorting hat may be absent, allocating houses is taken very seriously. Easily learning cues, obedience and enjoying puzzles suggests that a dog has the intelligence of a Ravenpaw; while having the determination to climb the agility A-Frame exhibits the ambition of Sloberin. A Gryffindog embraces change, takes on challenges and shows bravery, while a Hufflefluff pup is typically patient, loyal, hard-working and always happy to see a human.
Source: Metro UK
Although the program brings a magical quality to adoption, it masks a more serious purpose.
The project is part of a movement being adopted by progressive shelters around the world in a bid to remove breed labels. The idea is that people choose a dog to suit their lifestyle and family, rather than based on preconceived ideas of particular breeds. In 2011, London animal shelter Battersea Dogs & Cats Home launched its own #softerthanyouthink campaign, challenging misperceptions around staffy aggressiveness.
As for Pawgwarts, the shelter has experienced a significant increase in visitor traffic since its launch, meaning that even more of the 1,800 animals that end up at Pet Alliance every year are able to find their happily ever after homes.
Curious about which house your dog belongs to? Take the quiz here: https://petallianceorlando.org/pawgwarts/