Black Dog Syndrome


Black Dog Syndrome
The conjecture that black dogs (and cats) are less likely to be adopted from rescue shelters than animals of other colors.

“They’re just as friendly and just as furry, but black dogs sitting in animal shelters are often overlooked by prospective pet owners, according to animal rescue professionals who have dubbed the problem the ‘black dog syndrome,’” Emily Friedman reported for ABC News.

According to Friedman, shelter workers believe that black dogs and cats may be being overlooked due to superstition; because they are less photogenic; or because they are considered frightening.
For some shelters, the problem is so bad that they’ve developed special promotions to help draw attention to their black pooches.
In Raleigh, N.C., the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter in Wake County offers a discount on adoption fees to people who opt for black dogs. And for black cats, Friedman wrote:
The shelter developed a special portion of their Web site dedicated to these black cats and gave them each a superhero nickname, handmade them capes, and photographed them in the costumes.
“Many times, the black cats with no markings, much like the black dogs, appear to be a little bit plain, even though they’re bursting with personality,” said Hancock [the shelter's executive director], “So we have to accentuate that.”
The term “black dog syndrome” is not new, and Friedman noted:
Julie Morris, the senior vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, says that while the Black Dog Syndrome is talked about a lot, there are no hard numbers to support the theory.
According to Morris, it may simply be that there are more black dogs in the first instance, or that they are rejected because of their size – black dogs, apparently, tend to be larger.
[A number of people, including Samuel Johnson and Winston Churchill, have used the term “black dog” to describe their depression.]


Dictionary of unconsidered lexicographical trifles. 2014.

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