Many animal shelters are faced with an all too common problem: Black Dog Syndrome. Whether it’s because they don’t photograph well or because there is some unfounded stigma about them being evil, black dogs are overlooked by potential adopters. Photographer Fred Levy is helping to change that with his dazzling photos.
“Sometimes black dogs are seen as scarier by people,” said Hope Hancock, former executive director of the SPCA of Wake County in Raleigh, North Carolina. “It’s very, very unfair – you can get a bite from a little yellow Chihuahua faster than one of the bigger black dogs.
“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, so we have to accentuate that.”
A Maynard, Massachusetts photographer has recently initiated the Black Dogs Project, which features photos of dark dogs against a black background, helping them stand out.
“This photo series started after a conversation about how black dogs have a harder time getting adopted then other dogs,” Levy explained. “I decided to start a photo series photographing black dogs on a black background in my studio. Using social media, I’ve been recruiting local dog owners who have black dogs to photograph. It’s an amazing journey that will hopefully become a book.”
Though he hasn’t been able to find any significant statistics on the phenomena, shelter workers across the country can attest to the fact that black dogs are frequently overlooked, and take longer to be adopted.
“What we’ve learned is that large black dogs, and also black cats, tend to be the last ones to get adopted from shelters,” said Kim Saunders, the head of shelter outreach for Petfinder.com “As a result, there are more of them in shelters and are euthanized more because of the lack of space.”
“I thought this project would be a good graphic challenge and everyone has a really great story to tell,” Levy told The Huffington Post. “I want to bring awareness to this issue and remind people who are searching for the perfect dog that black dogs have great personalities too.”
“Through doing this project, I’ve found that it’s really important to share the idea that there are always so many dogs in need of a good safe home, regardless of what the dog looks like. Maybe someone will see this and consider the gravity of owning a pet, no matter what color it is.”
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