Black pet syndrome – fact or fiction
Is it really true that black dogs and cats are more frequently passed over for adoption?
Many animal welfare organizations refer to “black dog syndrome” – which applies to cats equally – as an unfair curse upon dark-furred animals. Just as many insist that black animals face no discrimination from potential adopters at all.
Statistics are scant. But some animal shelters believe that their black pets face a higher risk of death or prolonged homelessness.
These organizations work hard to bust the myth that black pets are inherently inferior, efforts similar to those used to counter negative perceptions of breed. This may involve highlighting animals’ personalities rather than focusing on superficial qualities like the color of their fur.
Black pet syndrome or not, one thing does seem to hold true: black animals are harder to photograph. As a result they may be less appealing to potential adopters who initially browse online for their new best friends.
This appeared to have been the case for Carrie, a nearly three year-old homeless mixed breed dog.
How one black dog defied the stigma
“She had been in foster care and was having trouble finding the perfect home,” says Crystal, an active duty Army medic who would in time adopt the homeless hound.
The adult pup was available through our partnership with the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. The shelter discounts adoption fees by $50 for veterans in our program when they adopt eligible dogs and cats.
Crystal and her husband – who is active military as well – knew they wanted to rescue a shelter pet. The color of the dog’s fur did not matter.
“My husband and I knew that it was time to bring in more life and character to our days,” the Army medic says. “We wanted to share our love.”
However, the couple “didn’t know where to start.” Fortunately some of their military friends had adopted through Pets for Patriots and were able to share their experiences with them.
“This program led me to the path and all the steps I need[ed] to take,” Crystal says. “After reviewing the benefits and the goals of the program, I knew I wanted to become part of it.”
The black shelter dog comes home
Crystal was approved into our program and in no time made the big black dog a part of her family.
And Carrie fit right in. She is a sweet and loving Labrador mix who listens well, behaves around guests, and “absolutely loves belly rubs.”
“We have been able to provide and change a dog’s life,” Crystal says. “We are proud to call her family. Having Carrie has brought new purpose into our daily old routine.”
Military life demands discipline, repetition, conformity, and perfection. Perhaps this is why Crystal and her husband are so enamored of their exuberant black dog, overlooked merely for the color of her fur.
“Carrie is so loving. She has this swag walk and so when I come home she just dances like crazy,” Crystal says. “Her favorite game…fetch. She will play fetch with anything and I love to see her passion.”
Carrie is a shining example
Black dog and black cat syndrome – to the extent that it exists – can be dispelled by showing that these animals are no different than their fairer furred counterparts.
They give and receive love with equal abandon. These animals need homes no more, or less, than their lighter-colored peers. And they come in all sizes, shapes, and personalities to fit every conceivable lifestyle and family.
Carrie is proof that every companion pet deserves a home. Her Army mom agrees.
“Thank you,” Crystal says, “for the opportunity to adopt a loving dog that needed a home.”