In this weeks blog, we're taking a look at something called Big Black Dog Syndrome (BBDS), as February is black cat and dog syndrome awareness month. So get comfy, grab yourself a cup of Rescue Coffee and let's dive in!
BBDS is a phenomenon in which black dogs and black cats are passed over for adoption in favour of lighter-coloured animals. This is even more common for the cats, likely due to superstition.
Kim Intino, the director of animal sheltering issues for the Humane Society of the United States, says. "I think that every person that has worked in a shelter can attest that in shelters animals with black coats can be somewhat harder to adopt out, or to even get noticed."
Multiple shelters, resource websites and experts all suggest this is an issue, so what causes it?
The simplest reason that might be costing these dogs & cats a good home?
Poorly lit kennels can make it harder for prospective adopters to notice a darker coloured animal. This theory could extend to the rescue organization's website if the photos being published are too dark and don't allow viewers to clearly see their features. Expressive facial features help us establish connection, a great dog may be more easily passed over if that connection is lost in a dark setting.
Madeline Bernstein, the president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Los Angeles says; "Black dogs might appear older; even when they're young if they have bits of facial hair that may be white or grey."
So we know it's an issue and have an understanding of what is causing it, but what is being done and how can we help?
Shelters in North America have been have been implementing creative initiatives to help fight this issue such as; fastening bows and bandanas around the dog’s necks or taking them outside for better pictures. One shelter even ran a special in February- 50% discount on black dogs, once they realized that 28 out of their 42 dogs were big and black!
Though there is still much to be done through initiatives and expanding the conversation, progress has been made to break down false prejudice and give these animals loving homes. If you want to help, perhaps consider a black cat or dog as your next rescue animal, or share the conversation with a friend over a nice cup of coffee!