It’s November, the start of a busy holiday rush which means family gatherings and sales. There are “Pre-Black Friday”-hoopla and “Black Friday Sneak Peeks,” mailers, advertisements, and messages everywhere you look. And while we love a good sale, Wondercide is focusing on what matters most: pets who need a home, especially black dogs and cats. A study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science found that black coat colors negatively influenced adoption rates for both cats and dogs. Researchers said adoption rates were much lower in pure-black animals. But we know that black pets are beautiful and lovable!
Celebrate with us
During the month of November, Wondercide will highlight black dogs and cats across the US who are available for adoption by featuring their pictures on social media. Through a partnership with Austin Pets Alive!, Wondercide will also match fees with that shelter when black pets are adopted, up to $10,000.
Are you a proud pet parent of a black fur baby? Share your photos or video by tagging @Wondercide with #BlackPetsAreWonderful so we can celebrate together.
Myths and legends
It’s not really clear why adoption rates of black pets suffer in favor of pets with a lighter coat, and thankfully not all shelters experience what’s been dubbed “Black Dog Syndrome” and “Black Cat Syndrome.” But many do. Data from the Austin Animal Shelter website was analyzed by Towards Data Science, a Medium publication, who confirms that this unfortunately happens in the rescue community.
It’s possible that there is an unconscious bias against dogs with a black coat due to their role in movies, mythology and folklore. Large black dogs are often portrayed as guardians of the underworld. In movies and television, black dogs are often shown to be aggressive security guards. This can make people fearful of and lead to stigmas especially against certain breeds, like pit bulls.
Black cats have a long history of being associated with witchcraft and superstitions about causing bad luck. Even though the hysteria around witches and associating black cats with demons has mostly disappeared, maybe some of that bias stuck around to subconsciously impact the draw of black cats to a potential adopter.
Or perhaps the black coat simply leads to a visibility problem. We wear black clothes to give a slimming effect, because the black tone hides some of the contour of our bodies. And the black color does the same thing to hide the features of a dog or cat. When rescues post pictures of their adoptable pets, the pictures of black pets can appear more plain, making it difficult for their personality to shine through in the photo. Even if there’s no negative bias based on coat color, it’s still possible for a black pet to have a difficult time standing out against their competition for adoption.
How can you help?
Having this awareness is a great step. Black dogs and cats are just as sweet with as much personality as any other pet. The best way to help black pets have a home is to adopt one! We’ll be highlighting available for adoption throughout November because #BlackPetsAreWonderful.
If you are not able to adopt a black pet of your own, you can donate to local shelters and rescues. Boosting their finances can give a rescue more resources to help care for black dogs while they continue to wait for adoption. You can also volunteer your time to support the operations of a shelter or rescue. Many shelters offer volunteers the opportunity to walk or play with dogs to help bring them some joy. You can help give a black dog hope without taking on the financial responsibility of pet ownership.
Encourage friends and family to keep an eye out for black pets whenever they consider adopting a new pet. Share your thoughts about it on social media, or you can amplify local adoption events to help spread the word. Any pet of any color that gets adopted is a good thing. So if you have room in your heart to go get a new furry friend, we celebrate you! #BlackPetsAreWonderful!