Black Dog Syndrome is killing America’s black dogs. Black dog syndrome is a phenomenon in America, and indeed throughout the world, in which black dogs are passed over for adoption in favor of lighter-colored animals. Animal shelters try to overcome this syndrome bias from pet adopters yet black dogs remain the most abandoned and most euthanized dogs in animal shelters.
Ending Black Dog Syndrome is a community service program of Green Pets America to educate the public on this syndrome and assist animal shelters across America get their black shelter dogs adopted.
As Executive Director and founder of a dog rescue nonprofit, Green Pets America Charities, I have spent the last 12 years involved with rescuing dogs from shelters. Everything from walking in and pulling them out of kill shelters, to taking them to vets, to bringing them to our rescue group, to placing them in foster care and working diligently to adopt them. I’ve spent many a weekend at Pet Smart with two dozen dogs trying to get them adopted.
Through all this, one thing became apparent to me. Black Dogs were the least adopted of all the dogs we rescued. They were the least adopted in the shelters we went into as well. We therefore had a higher than usual selection of black dogs, versus light colored or mixed color dogs to rescue from our area animal shelters.
What we also found was black dogs languished not only much longer in shelters, but rescue groups as well. Where we could adopt other colors out on average in three months, some black dogs took up to a year…. Some, even more.
So I did some research and found that our experience was not unusual, it was sadly normal. There is a phenomena and its named, Black Dog Syndrome (BDS). Black Dog Syndrome is known by shelters and rescue groups throughout America. Numerous respected national organizations have long recognized BDS as an issue that adversely affects the adoption rates of black pets.
Black Dog Syndrome is a sometimes conscious, but most times unconscious mental, and emotional bias in humans against black dogs.
Well, there are many reasons, including superstitious fear of black dogs, “old wives’ tales” about black dogs, Black dogs depicted in movies and literature as evil or devilish. A scary, growling black dog can be seen in The Hound of the Baskervilles, the Harry Potter series and The Omen.
Because of this bias, black shelter dogs are the most euthanized dogs in our animal shelters.
In a survey, Pet finder the respected national organization where we post our dogs available for adoption, animal shelter and rescue groups reported that most pets are listed for about 3 months, whereas, black dogs and senior or special needs dogs average 12 months on the Pet finder adoption site.
The only real fact, not ignorance, superstition or media and folklore bias is that black dogs do not photograph well on animal shelters and rescue groups websites, listing pictures of dogs for adoption. This is easily overcome however by simply photographing black dogs in front of blue screens or blue paper, as we have done at our rescue organization Green Pets America.
At Ending Black Dog Syndrome [BlackDogSyndrome.org] the color of a dogs coat has nothing to do with the dogs’ temperament or personality. Ask any owner of a black dog. Ask me, we have three. Our black dogs are as loving, playful, smart and a joy to be with each day as our other two, non-black dogs.
So what can you do to end Black Dog Syndrome?
You can go to an animal shelter and adopt a black shelter dog.
You can share this with friends and family, encouraging them to consider adopting a black dog the next time they get a dog.
Remind people it’s not the color of the dog, but the size of her heart that is important.
Steven Monahan, Founder Green Pets America