It’s the start of a busy holiday season full of family gatherings, running around, and sales. So many sales! There are “Pre-Black Friday Pop Ups” and “Black Friday Sneak Peeks,” mailers, ads, and messages everywhere. And while everyone loves a good deal, Wondercide, an Austin, Texas based company, is focusing on an even bigger deal: pets who need a home, especially black dogs and cats.
The Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science is just one organization that found black coat colors negatively influenced adoption rates for both cats and dogs, especially big dogs. Researchers said adoption rates were much lower in pure-black animals. Animal shelters often use the term “Black Dog Syndrome” or “Black Cat Syndrome” to describe this phenomenon when they experience it.
During the month of November, Wondercide is showing the love and will highlight black pets across the US who are available for adoption, encouraging families to expand their pack during Black Pet November.
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.
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 those cats to a potential adopter.
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.
It’s getting better though for black dogs and cats. As author Iuliia Stanina writes after analyzing data from the Austin Animal Shelter website, “Current data analysis revealed that almost 45% of all black pets are being adopted thanks to promotions and people being educated that black dogs and black cats are as friendly, as loving, as cute, and as loyal as dogs and cats of any other color and that they should be adopted.”
If you are unable to adopt a pet, one can donate funds, time or talents to local shelters and rescues. This can give a rescue more resources to help care for pets while they continue to wait for adoption.