Shelter Tackles the “Black Dog Syndrome”

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Ellen Stance, Onslow County Animal Services employee, holds a red pit bull mix puppy who is looking for a home.

Onslow County Animal Services in Jacksonville, NC, knows how hard big black and brown dogs have finding homes. The Black Dog Syndrome is when black dogs get over-looked in shelters simply because of their color. It’s hard to get a good photo of a black dog and people just naturally tend to look for lighter colored dogs.

“What we’ve learned is that large black or brown dogs tend to be the last ones to get adopted from shelters,” said Alan Davis, director of Onslow County Animal Services.

Although there are no official statistics, it’s estimated that black and brown dogs linger in shelters up to 5-6 times longer than other dogs. “Many times, the black/brown dogs with no markings appear to be a little bit plain, even though they’re bursting with personality, so we at Animal Services have to accentuate that. People are looking for a face to fall in love with, and if that dog doesn’t stand out in a crowd, they just get overlooked,” says Davis.

So what is Onslow Animal Services doing about it? They’re joining other shelters across the nation by offering a special adoption discount on black and brown dogs. $50 will allow a family to adopt one of these wonderful dogs and that includes, just like with all their other dogs up for adoption, vaccinations, health exam, and the dog will be spayed/neutered.

3 thoughts on “Shelter Tackles the “Black Dog Syndrome””

  1. The color of a dog does not matter. The heart of the dog is all that counts and they are all heart! I hope that people get over their prejudices and just see the heart and love that any dog can give. Good luck doggies and know that someone will love you soon! We have a predominatily black dog and we love him and he loves us. Color was not an issue when we saw this little dog who now weighs 120 lbs. I wish all the best to these dogs.

  2. You could just overexposed the photo, either in the camera or by lightening it in image editing software. Just enough to see the face.

  3. We adopted our Black Dog from a shelter… After we got him home, I went on line to see his picture so that I could have a “before a loving home” photo and what they had online was a horrible photo.. didn’t even really look like him, the only way i could tell it was him was from the white star on his chest… it didn’t show his beautiful eyes or the perk of his ears or his lovely coat… it was just a black blur. So.. I understand what the article is saying. It is possible to get good photos of black/brown animals, but it’s not as easy.. a lot of times the people taking the photo just have time for a quick snap, not to sit there and edit the photo forever. I think a discount to adopt a dog is NEVER a bad thing. Midnight has been with us for 7 years now, and he’s my Knight in Shining Collar. Thank god I didn’t go online first, because I would never have chosen him from the photo.


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