A common challenge in the adoption business is finding homes for black dogs. For many years, shelter workers worldwide have reported that black dogs (and cats) are less likely to be adopted than others and more likely to be euthanized.
It’s a case of judging a book by its cover – or is it?
In films, if there is an evil or menacing guard dog, it’s usually black or dark coloured (e.g. Rottweiler, Doberman). Black cats are notoriously associated with the devil or witches, as well.
However, research published in early 2012 suggested that the issue isn’t colour – it’s breed. And no one appears to be gathering statistics on the adoption of black dogs vs other dogs. Plus there’s the fact that the Labrador (including black Labs) is routinely the top of the list when it comes to popular breeds. This means that someone isn’t afraid of black dogs!
Practically speaking, however, it is usually more difficult to photograph a black dog. Many shelters find that they can’t do a black dog justice in the photos that are mounted on the internet on shelter web pages and Facebook sites. Rescue organisations are encouraged to place additional overhead lighting in the kennels of black dogs to make them more appealing to visitors. Another suggestion is to take a black dog for a run or brisk walk before photographing him/her – thus photographing them when they are panting which is more likely to look like a smile in their photograph.
Patricia McConnell has commented on Black Dog Syndrome (fact or fiction) on her website.
Meanwhile, rescue organisations often hold special events for the adoption of black-coated animals. These are photos I took last year at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary during their May appeal – Back in Black… The adoption fee was waived for all black animals during the month. Very creative!
Do you think Black Dog Syndrome is real? What does your rescue organisation do to support the adoption of black dogs?