Black Dog Syndrome: How Fur Color Can Influence Choosing A Pet

Clear the Shelters

A sitting black Chow Chow puppy!A 12 weeks male puppy dog with a blue tongue on green grass.

More Clear the Shelters

Help WETM-TV 'Clear the Shelters!' We hope you come out on Saturday, August 17 and adopt a furry friend! 

Adoption fees are waived at participating shelters, on August 17 only, pending application approval. Other fees may still apply.

Here’s a list of participating adoption shelters in the Twin Tiers:

Adoptable Pets Animal Care Sanctuary Animal Care Sanctuary Facebook Image Map

animal_care_sanctuary_info

The Animal Care Sanctuary is a no-kill sanctuary with locations in East Smithfield and Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. Our mission is to provide a safe and caring refuge for companion animals, inspire change through education, provide adoption services, and support spay/neuter initiatives.


Questions about adoption? Contact the shelter:

Emily Shaffer, Adoption Coordinator
P: (570) 596-2200 x101
E: eshaffer@animalcaresanctuary.org

To be sure the process is smooth, please bring all veterinary records the day of Clear the Shelters, as most veterinarian offices are not open on weekends. Without veterinary records of current furry family members, we cannot complete a same-day adoption. Get ahead of the game and fill out an application a few days prior to arriving and we will work to get you preapproved. 


Help us Clear the Shelter! Adoption applications can be found here and submitted for pre-approval beginning July 18th. If you already have pets in your home, please include proof of current rabies vaccination for each pet. If you rent, we will need confirmation from the landlord that the pet is allowed in the home.

Applications can be brought to the shelter or emailed to admin@chemungspca.org. All adoptions are pending an approved application.


Adoptable Pets Pet Finder ChemungCountySPCA Image Map

Please help us to clear our shelter on August 17!  Adoption fees will be waived for all of our cats and dogs who are 5 months of age and up.  A special reduced adoption rate will be applied to kittens and puppies (under 5 months) for the Clear the Shelters event.  All adoptions are pending an approved application. Our adoption process is not difficult; it is aimed at ensuring that you and your cat or dog are good matches will have a long and happy future together. 

We strongly encourage you to come in ahead of the event to submit your application early and especially to spend time getting to know available animals.  We will start accepting applications specific to this event on August 7th.  If you rent, we will need confirmation from the landlord that the pet is allowed in the home.  If you already have pets in your home,  a meet and greet may be needed.  Also, providing confirmation of basic veterinary care provided your animals is helpful to the process.     

Adoption Application

Questions about adoption? Contact our shelter: 607-776-3039  11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Mon, Tues, Wed, Fri and Sat  - Closed on Thurs & Sun

Applications can be brought in to the shelter. All adoptions are pending application approval. 

A portion of our adoptable animals can be viewed by clicking here

Finger Lakes SPCA FLSPCA Facebook FLSPCA Twitter Image Map


Pawz & Purrz Animal Rescue can be found online and on Facebook.  As a fostering program, we don't have a physical location, but for Clear the Shelters this year, we will be appearing at the Tractor Supply in Painted Post.  We have both dogs and cats available for adoption, however adoption fees will be waived for cats and kittens only.


Questions about adoption? Contact:

Vicki Eichenlaub
P: (607) 329-5839

Please fill out your application online first by August 15 to be pre-approved by Clear the Shelters day and make sure that your veterinarian is aware that we will be calling to verify existing pet vaccinations are up to date. 


Cats at Stray Haven may be adopted same day with approved applications. Please bring your proof to show you may have pets if you rent. You can meet and pet all of our Cats in the Community and Kitten Rooms. Your adopted cat will already be spayed or neutered, FeLV/FIV tested negative and up-to-date on essential vaccinations (Rabies, distemper combo).

We look forward to introducing you to our shelter dogs in the Multi-Purpose Room. This environment helps the dogs focus on meeting their prospective new family and enjoy the meet and greet.  Completed Dog Adoption Applications can be reviewed within 1 day. If you rent, please bring your rental agreement allowing pets to speed your application. If you have a dog, we will need to schedule a meet & greet for the dogs, please call ahead to arrange your time (your dog's proof of vaccination required). Your adopted dog will be spayed or neutered, up-to-date on essential vaccinations (Rabies, distemper combo, bordatella) and microchipped. You will also receive a personalized engraved pet tag.

Adoption fees will be waived, all animals may be adopted for spay/neuter fee only.  We are also offering "Name Your Adoption Donation" on our long term residents.

Adoption Form

Questions about adoption? Contact the shelter:

P: (607) 565-2859
E: adopt@strayhavenspca.com


Phone: 607-257-1822 ext. 221
Email: adoptions@spcaonline.com

The Tompkins County SPCA will only be waiving the adoption fees for kittens and adult cats. The Tompkins Co. SPCA will also be offering rabbits and guinea pigs during the Clear the Shelters Adoption Event. 

Click here to print an adoption application.

Driving Directions:

  • Route 13 North
  • Drive 2.8 miles Past Triphammer Rd. Exit
  • Turn right on Hanshaw Rd.
  • Proceed to Stop Sign; Turn right
  • Drive .75 mile; SPCA on right


On Aug. 17, NBC and Telemundo stations around the country will join forces with local animal shelters in the hopes of finding forever homes for pets in need.

But for certain types of adoptable pets, making it out of the shelter can be ruff. While it’s not unusual for older pets or pets with diagnosed medical conditions to wait longer for the perfect home, a surprising factor may come in to play when potential adopters evaluate shelter pets – color. In fact, many shelters and rescues have coined the term “black dog syndrome” to describe the frequency with which dark-coated animals are passed over for lighter-colored pets.

It should be noted that attempts to study black dog syndrome have had mixed results. Some questioned whether this puppy prejudice even existed at all, while others found that although black cats and dogs were eventually adopted, it took substantially longer for them to find the perfect match than for their light-colored counterparts. But seasoned shelter workers insist the phenomenon is real, and I have seen it for myself during visits to our local shelter. Here are some theories as to why these pets have a tendency to be overlooked.

Black pets are tough to photograph
As the owner of a black dog who is often featured on our hospital’s social media platforms, I can attest to this personally. Lighting, backgrounds, and the clothing of the people in the shot all have to be taken into consideration when trying to capture that perfect shot. And once we have it, we usually tweak it by lightening, cropping or adding filters. Busy animal shelters can not often spare the time needed for such fussy attention to detail. As a result, dark-coated pets may not present well on a shelter’s website or social media platforms.

Black pets don’t stand out
Dim lighting and shadows in shelter enclosures can swallow up a dark-coated pet. And if the pet is feeling overwhelmed, shadows are exactly where they want to be. In these types of situations, a potential adopter may not notice the pet at all.

Dark faces hide eyes and facial expressions
We often search animals’ faces in the hopes of making an emotional connection. The eyes of a black dog or cat are less likely to stand out than those of their light coated counterparts. When surrounded by dark fur, their facial expressions are less pronounced and therefore harder for adopters to read.

Media and cultural bias
In many cultures, the color black is associated with evil, misfortune, and bad luck. From Harry Potter’s Grim, to the Hounds of Baskerville, to the universal Beware Of Dog sign, aggressive dogs in popular culture are often portrayed as being black. And the superstitions surrounding black cats have been around for thousands of years. It should be noted, however, that in some countries, black cats are seen as harbingers of good luck, blessings, and excellent fortune. 

Perhaps the best way for potential adopters to avoid the traps of black cat and black dog syndrome is to simply be aware of its existence. Choose pets based on temperament and suitability to your lifestyle, and make sure you have the time and resources needed for responsible pet ownership. Once we’re reminded not to judge a book by its cover, we tend to correct that tendency. The same can be said of judging a pet by its coat as we get ready to Clear The Shelters.

Dr. Kupkee is the lead practitioner at Sabal Chase Animal Clinic

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