Black dogs, cats often last to find homes, first to be euthanized
Do people discriminate against black-coated pets? As strange as it may sound, the answer appears to be yes. Black pets often are the last ones to be adopted and the first in line to be euthanized in a phenomena that even has a name -- "black dog ...
Do people discriminate against black-coated pets? As strange as it may sound, the answer appears to be yes. Black pets often are the last ones to be adopted and the first in line to be euthanized in a phenomena that even has a name -- "black dog syndrome."
"There are times when we have an abundance of black dogs and it does appear that they are more difficult to find homes for," said Arlette Moen, executive director of the Circle of Friends Humane Society in Grand Forks.
Some pet stores actually avoid taking in dark-coated pets, said Patti Zinke of the Pet Center and Patti's Grooming in Alexandria, Minn.
"Very true. I don't like to take in black cats, because I don't sell them," Zinke said.
Another who has noticed the trend is Christin Klimek, director of the Lakes Area Humane Society in Alexandria.
"We get really excited when people come into the shelter and say, 'You know, I'm looking for a black lab or a black lab mix,'" Klimek said. "We're like, 'Oh, we love you!'"
They do place black dogs and cats, Klimek said, "but definitely, statistically, they are with us longer."
Despite anecdotal evidence, does black dog syndrome really exist? Moen said she's never heard anyone specifically say, "I don't want a black dog." But many people who come to the humane shelter are looking for a specific type of dog. Black labs and black lab mixed breeds are so common, people may be looking for something different, she said.
"Regardless of the coat color, personality is a bigger factor," she said. "And we do adopt a lot of dogs with black coats."
If there's an over supply of black-coated dogs, it could be because the black gene is dominant, some pet owners say. Others maintain the black dog syndrome happens because people like lighter-colored animals.
And why would that be?
Photographs Black dogs and cats are hard to photograph, as their features do not show up as well.
People look for a face to fall in love with, and with pet placement facilities using the Internet and digital photography to advertise available pets, the black animals often get passed up for the more photogenic color combinations.
Lights, camera, action Benji wasn't black and neither was Lassie. Even Toto from "The Wizard of Oz" had tones of gray and brown in his coat. As in photographs, the features of black animals don't show up well on film either.
Bad dog In books and movies, black dogs often are depicted as aggressive and dangerous. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Walter Scott, for instance, wrote about the black dog as a creepy, spectral figure that haunted cemeteries and was an omen of death. More recently, in "Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban," a big black dog called the Grim stalked Harry.
The term "black dog" also has been used over the years as a metaphor for depression, including by Sir Winston Churchill, who suffered from the "black dog" himself. "Living with a Black Dog" is a book about depression.
Superstition Some people associate the color black with evil or misfortune and it carries over to the color choice of pets.