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.