by Diane Blankenburg
Throughout my life, I have had many black dogs and cats in my animal family. I always thought they possessed an extra beauty with an exotic touch. Two of the three dogs that currently share my life are, in fact, black.
It wasn’t until I entered the animal welfare world that I realized how much at risk these beauties are. Studies have shown that shelter adoption rates for black dogs and cats (especially cats) are a lot lower than for other animals. With so many healthy animals still being euthanized across the country, sadly, black cats and dogs are more likely to be at the top of the euthanasia list.
At Nevada Humane Society, over one third of the dogs and cats in the shelter at this time are black or partially black. This is very typical in shelters across the country and there are no scientific reasons why other than the belief by some that the black gene is dominant. But there are many theories and myths on why they are no adopted as often as others.
- Black pets blend into the background. Colorful animals may stand out more and catch one’s attention easier. Light-colored animals’ facial characteristics are easier to see, which may lead adopters to think they have more personality.
- It is hard to catch black animals on film. Since adoptable pets are often promoted with photographs, black cats and dogs are at a disadvantage.
- Black cats have been associated with witchcraft and bad luck. These are superstitions that were born hundreds of years ago.
- Black dogs have also been given a bad rap. According to ancient folklore, black dogs were believed to be ghosts of wicked souls.
- A majority of black dogs at shelters are of larger breeds. Smaller dogs tend to be more popular and easier to care for in certain living situations. Some think that large black dogs are scary and this is how they are often portrayed in movies.
- Black pets are thought to shed more hair. This is untrue, but may be believed since black hair is more visible on light surfaces.
- Black animals might appear older. Even when they’re young, they have bits of facial hair that may be white or gray.
The truth is that black cats and dogs have the same characteristics as pets of other colors—calm or energetic, cuddly or independent, goofy or sophisticated, old or young. Regardless of color, all pets have unique personalities and all have the same amount of unconditional love to give. Many owners have found that once you adopt a black pet you can never go back. Take a look at Johnny (featured here) or the many other wonderful black pets in our area shelters. You too may get hooked!