A blog by spcaLA president, Madeline Bernstein

Jun 6, 2011

Discrimination Against Black Dogs is a Real Problem

As school ends and summer draws near, many families consider adopting a dog.  This year consider a black dog and help combat Black Dog Syndrome

Black Dog Syndrome is a genuine phenomenon whereby black does are more difficult to adopt out or sell than lighter colored dogs.

One theory for this discrimination is a simple association with the color black with evil, aggression, scariness and bad things. Examples found in folklore (ghostly black dogs haunting cemeteries), Harry Potter stories (three headed black guard dog), and Winston Churchill referring to his depression as his "black dog" cultivate a subconscious fear of these animals.

However on a very conscious level, they simply look more ominous and chimera like as shelters are often poorly lit and these dogs recede into the walls as sad solemn shadows. Black dogs also appear older as many have wisps of white whiskers which suggest aging.

The effect is that more of these dogs will spend longer periods of time caged in shelters or shops with a greater likelihood of euthanasia. Ironically, clients that gravitate to these dogs first are more interested in a guard dog with a fierce look rather than a family pet.

spcaLA and other progressive shelters across the country struggle to make these dogs seem more attractive by housing them in the brightest kennels, showing them out of doors, adorning them with colorful kerchiefs, creating targeted promotions, and even offering discount prices.

Adopting a dog from a shelter rather than purchasing from pet stores, puppy mills and or questionable on line vendors is good karma – a single.

Adopting an older dog rather than a puppy is a good deed and more good karma – a double.

A willingness to open your home to a dog with special medical or behavior needs, perhaps one that was a victim of animal abuse –a good karma triple.

Make that a black dog – a karma home run.

1 comment:

  1. That is such a shame!! I was always attracted to the "black dogs" and it had nothing to do with being a guard dog. My first black dog, was a pitbull/black lab mix. She looked mostly like a pit but had the rear legs of the lab. She "little one" was my bestest buddy. I can honestly say, that I just love "black dogs", they are the best!!! I would love to adopt another one, but due to my circumstances, right now I just can't do it. But I do appreciate what you's are tyring to do. Best of luck to you and the "black dogs".