Black Dog Friday is a national education program, created by Black Dog Syndrome.org and Green Pets America Charities. The mission of Black Dog Friday is getting black dogs adopted from local animal shelters and rescue organizations every Friday. Black dogs are the least adopted, most euthanized of all shelter dogs. Approximately 500,000 black dogs are euthanized every year.
The fear of black dogs is classified as a syndrome. This syndrome and fear of black dogs is a phenomenon, not only in America but throughout the world. Because of this bias and fear black dogs are passed over for adoption in favor of lighter-colored animals.
As the founder of a dog rescue nonprofit, Green Pets America Charities, I have spent the last 12 years involved in rescuing dogs from shelters. Everything from walking in and pulling them out of kill shelters, to taking them to vets. To bring them to our rescue group. We then vet them and place them in foster care. We work diligently to adopt them into loving safe homes. 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 are the least adopted of all the dogs we rescue. They are the least adopted in the shelters we go into as well. We always have a higher than usual selection of black dogs, versus light colored or mixed color dogs.
We realized that black dogs languished not only longer in shelters, but rescue groups such as ours as well. Where shelters and rescue groups adopt other colors out on average in three months, some black dogs take up to a year…. some, even more.
So I did some research and found that our experience at Green Pets America was not unusual, it was sadly normal. Seems there is even a name for it. This phenomenon is called 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.
So, what exactly is this syndrome? Black Dog Syndrome is a sometimes conscious, but most times unconscious mental, and emotional bias in humans against black dogs.
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 recent national 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 are that black dogs do not photograph well on animal shelter websites. This is easily overcome however by simply photographing black dogs in front of blue screens or blue paper, as we do at GPA.
At Green Pets America Charities, creators of Black Dog Friday we believe that 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 help Black Dog Friday end Black Dog Syndrome?
- You can go to an animal shelter or local rescue group and adopt a black shelter dog this Friday.
- You can share this with friends and family, encouraging them to consider adopting a black dog this Friday, or the next time they get a dog.
- Remind people it’s not the color of the dog, but the size of her or his heart that is important.