The periodic visits to our partner animal shelters may very well be my favorite part of this job. I get to play with an array of different animals, as well as provide an update on the state of the animals that our generous customers are donating to. However, this particular visit to our current partner, the Michigan Animal Rescue League, had a peculiarity about it.
You see the color of the day was black. As in, over 50% of the animals we saw had black coloring.
We got to play with a few adorable kittens...
as well as say hello to several adult black cats.
Leah is still up for adoption!
We've all heard the superstition that black cats cause "bad luck".
"You know, places in the world like Japan, Scotland and Britain actually think I bring good luck"
And terms like "Black Dog Syndrome" are thrown around the internet to describe the negative stigma that people often associate with big, black dogs. Shelter workers often have to reassure potential adopters that this is not the case.
Spencer is a loving Lab/ German Shepherd mix and still up for adoption!
Now it may just be a coincidence that these black cats and dogs were at MARL during the time of our visit. No studies have been able to provide statistics backing things like Black Dog Syndrome but the stereotype still lingers, with shelters worldwide providing the same anecdotal evidence. Many shelters have even gone so far as to hold special events for their furry black residents, or waiving their adoption fees when the population grows to be too overwhelming.
Some animal shelters in the U.S. even prohibit the adoption of black cats around the time of Halloween out of fear that the animals may be tortured or used as living props and then discarded.
We can, as always, blame the media. Black dogs and cats are often portrayed as evil or villainous...
"Bow down to your canine overlord"
or we can blame ourselves, for perpetuating the idea that the appearance on the outside has anything at all to do with the personality on the inside. But pointing a finger does nothing, so here are some tips to help end the stereotype.
Black animals don't often photograph as well as their lighter counterparts. In fact, there was a recent internet rumor that the reason people were less likely to adopt black pets was because they were harder to take selfies with. While that is just complete garbage, it does makes sense why a shadowy, dark picture could discourage a potential adopter browsing pictures at a shelter from choosing that animal over others.
Some photography tips include photographing darker animals in front of brighter backgrounds. Also, try increasing the brightness or exposure to bring out their features,
or lowering the contrast to decrease harsh shadows,
and if all else fails, change the Instagram filter...
For those looking to adopt, consider steering clear of the internet all together and, instead, scheduling a visit with your local shelter. You'll learn far more about an animal's personality while interacting with them in person than you ever could from a photograph.