Thursday, October 16, 2008
Shelters Fighting "Black Dog" Syndrome
In many shelters across the country, dogs with thick, dark black coats usually take longer to get adopted. The phenomenon is commonplace enough to have earned its own name: "black dog syndrome."
The worst part, is that because they are the hardest to adopt out, they’re in shelters the longest and are the most likely to be euthanized if nothing happens.
There is no exact reason as to why this occurs, but there are several theories. Could it be a subconscious thing, like the fear of black cats? Could it be that in some black dogs - the black pug comes to mind - that it's harder to see the dog's true features? Is it because they just look scarier?
Some people have actually turned in their black dog to a shelter because they've gotten new furniture and don't like the dark fur their pet sheds.
The sheer difficulty in marketing of a black dog is also one theory of why they stay in shelters the longest. Their black coats can make them invisible in poorly lit kennels. The same problem occurs with amateur photos on shelters' websites, which is how many people find the dog they intend to adopt.
And then, because a lot of these dogs may be at a shelter, a person thinks maybe they aren’t being adopted for a good reason – maybe there is something wrong with them.
Add that to the fact that in bigger breeds, such as Rottweilers, Dobermans, and pit bull mixes, the dogs just down right look big and scary.
But think twice when looking at black dogs. My family members did. The photo above is of their pit-bull mix they adopted. Ebony, as she has been adequately named, was just begging to be adopted. She was playful and friendly and had been found roaming the streets, all alone. Skinny to the point where you could see her ribs, the description read as follows: One-year-old terrier-mix is a very pretty girl. She has a very lean body that is accentuated by her beautiful black coat. She was found as a stray by a person that was not allowed to have pets in his home. He cared for her for three weeks while looking for her owner. She is a very polite young lady looking for her forever home.
The description was right-on. Although she may look big and mean, she is one of the nicest dogs I’ve ever been around. Loyal and loving, all she needed was someone to treat her right. After her adoption, she gained over 20 pounds, and is now a strong, playful, dog. I would use the old cliché that she is all bark with no bite…but she doesn’t even bark all that much. Not much of a guard dog, when someone walks in the house, all she wants to do is play. When she’s let out in the yard, she runs around to get her exercise, and then quickly returns home. Ebony has no desire to be lost again without a family.
As you can see by her place on the couch, she is a full-fledged family member.
So, the next time you’re at your local shelter, take a good long look at the black dogs. They may surprise you.
This post is part of Petside's Pet Net Adoption Event. Check out other great posts about pet adoption.