Sadly, black animals are routinely passed over at animal shelters across the country. “People constantly overlook the wonderful qualities of black animals,” laments the Humane Society’s director of behavior, Bill Berloni.
“I would say at least 80 percent of our dog kennel is black 98 percent of the time,” says Katherine Christenson of Georgia’s Atlanta Humane Society. “People always take the blond dogs first; it’s horrible.”
Animal shelters tend to be dark and poorly lit, so black animals are difficult to see. And black dogs are tough to photograph, because their coats devour the available light, so very often the only thing you see in a photo of a black dog is his eyes.
“It’s subconscious discrimination,” Berloni adds. “In fairy tales, the bad guys are always dressed in black, so in our collective memory, anything that’s evil or dangerous wears black.”
Ancient superstition holds that black animals bring bad luck, and those outdated beliefs only get stronger in the weeks leading up to Halloween.
Strangely, even in fashion capitals such as New York, where black is THE fashion color, people who wear head-to-toe black tend to prefer a dog with a pale, flashy coat.
Ralph Ellison’s novel “Invisible Man” is a powerful comment on racism, as timely now as it was when first published in 1952. Sadly, black animals at shelters are invisible too; they, too, experience prejudice.
“Not being able to look past the color of an animal’s coat is like not being able to look past the color of a person’s skin,” Berloni concludes.