USA Today - Shelter workers call it the "Black Dog Syndrome": Black dogs and cats are often the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized.
There are no statistics, but there's plenty of anecdotal evidence and many possible explanations, ranging from superstitions like the notion that black cats are bad luck, to a simple logistical problem: Black animals are hard to photograph well, and are therefore hard to advertise. To combat the problem, shelters have come up with a variety of creative measures, from reducing adoption fees to improving the quality of the photos.
"Overwhelmingly, we hear from the shelter and rescue groups that black dogs, especially the big black dogs, and black cats take longer to get adopted," said Kim Saunders, vice president of shelter outreach for Petfinder.com, the country's largest online pet adoption database.
Some have called Black Dog Syndrome a hoax, but Inge Fricke, director of sheltering and pet care issues for the Humane Society of the United States in Washington, D.C., insists "it is not a hoax. There is definitely anecdotal evidence. There haven't been any definitive studies to absolutely prove that the phenomenon exists but it is something commonly accepted by shelter workers as truth."
Some in the adoption business think there may simply be more black dogs and cats than animals of other colors. Others think the animals may be wrongly perceived as menacing.
Mike Arms, president of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., blames part of it on typecasting. "If you think of any movie with a mean, devil dog, it's always a black dog, and if you see a witch in a movie, they always have a black cat."
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