Formerly known as the city animal shelter, BARCS, on Stockholm Street south of M&T Bank Stadium, took on nonprofit status in 2005. It is now operated by a board of directors headed by the city's health commissioner, is able to raise money to supplement its city funding and has put more emphasis on finding homes for pets.

Mead, who has two mutts of her own, said about 90 percent of dogs entering the shelter are mixed breeds.

"We don't get a lot of purebreds in, and pretty much any breed has a rescue group that's very willing to take them when they are purebred. There are not many groups that take mixed breeds."

For Mead, though, mutts have a special appeal and a few advantages.

For one thing, crossbreeding seems to cut down on the genetic problems that can arise in purebreds.

All three breeds Mead mentioned as possibilities for Ace, for example -- Rottweiler, Akita and German shepherd -- have reputations as dogs that can, in some instances, be aggressive.

Ace, though he appreciates a good wrestling match, has shown no evidence of that.

"Not all Rottweilers are bad. Not all Akitas or German shepherds are bad. A lot of it is how they're raised, and some of it is genetics," Mead said. "But also I think when you start mixing them you don't always see the same concerns you do when you have a purebred."

She added, "Mixes are one of a kind, you'll never get another dog exactly like it. ... The majority of the world says, 'I want that look,' and goes for the purebred. But these guys, their personality, the mix of different things, it's fun. Like the puppy I got. I have no idea what she will look like in the end. Mixed breeds need to become more of a fad."

I left BARCS not knowing much more than I did when I arrived, but with the hope I might still be able to get in touch with the man who found Ace and called to turn him in. Beyond that, there wasn't any more Mead really knew about Ace's background.

What she couldn't tell us, though, maybe his DNA could.

john.woestendiek@baltsun.com