Black Dog Syndrome

Katy Waldman, Slate, June 29, 2014

Just when you were hoping there were no new ways to be racist, it turns out people may be racist against dogs. Black Dog Syndrome is the name shelter workers have given to the tendency of dark-furred pups to languish in kennels while their lighter-furred brethren get adopted. “The effect is very real,” says Mirah Horowitz, executive director and founder of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue. “We recently had a litter of five very cute, very fluffy puppies, two yellow and three black. And the yellow ones all went immediately, but for the black ones it took weeks.”

Black dogs get euthanized at higher rates. They linger at pounds and adoption agencies for longer than light-colored dogs, and they are less likely to find a home. Marika Bell, director of behavior and rehoming for the Humane Society of Washington, D.C., says the organization has been tracking animals that have stayed at their shelters the longest since March 2013. They found that three characteristics put a pet at risk of becoming one of these so-called “hidden gems”: medium size, an age of 2-3 years, and an ebony coat.

{snip}

Animal welfare experts believe the discrimination arises from a pack of factors. The mythology around black dogs is grim. (The Grim, from Harry Potter, is a “large, black, spectral dog that haunts churchyards” and augurs death.) A 2013 study by Penn State psychologists revealed that people find images of black dogs scarier than photos of yellow or brown dogs–respondents rated the dark-furred animals less adoptable, less friendly, and more intimidating. {snip}

It’s not all superstition, though. With the ascent of image-based sites like Petfinder and Petango, much of the adoption process takes place before you even arrive at the shelter. And glamour shots of black animals are harder to imbue with the requisite sparkle. “Their faces look less expressive, and their eyes get lost,” says Fred Levy, a photographer whose Black Dog Project attempts to give jet-hued canines the star treatment they deserve. (Photography lighting problems can also drive fashion glossies to subtle racism.) Because of the way the camera averages out exposure levels over the entire scene, Levy explains, “often all you’ll see of the dog is a black silhouette and a big tongue.” He solves the problem by arranging his models against a charcoal background. And Horowitz has found that videos work better than photographs at capturing a dog’s lovable personality. But for adoption programs without video equipment or access to professional photographers, shots of black animals remain harder to sell than those of lighter-colored pets.

{snip}

Bell has her own pet theory: “I think it comes down to facial expressions,” she tells me. “People attach to dogs when they can read their facial expressions, and on black dogs those are harder to make out. You can barely see their eyebrows, and it becomes harder to humanize them and connect on an emotional level.”

Other hypotheses floating around the trade: Would-be owners worry that a black dog will shed too noticeably on the furniture; black dogs get overheated more easily at adoption events and don’t introduce themselves; black dogs look older; black dogs strike people as boring. And one chow jowl-wrinkle that no one mentions: Studies suggest that people tend to choose pooches that bear some resemblance to them, whether that manifests in a lady with flowing tresses selecting a long-eared retriever or a saggy-faced man opting for a bulldog. Could the link between an owner’s and a dog’s appearance factor into the phenomenon? According to a Pew survey, 45 percent of white people own a dog, compared to 20 percent of black people. {snip}

Some dismiss Black Dog Syndrome as an urban legend, noting a paucity of hard data supporting the effect. As a measure of how common raven-haired pups are, the Los Angeles Animal Services Department reported in 2008 that 27 percent of the 30,046 dogs it had picked up in the previous 12 months had predominantly sable coats. That prevalence was mirrored in the year’s adoption statistics: 28 percent of the animals that eventually found homes were also predominantly black. And in a 2012 study, researchers asked volunteers to rank four hypothetical pooches–a big white poodle, a small white poodle, a big black poodle, and a small black poodle–on perceived friendliness and aggressiveness. They discovered that the imaginary white dogs were seen as significantly meaner and more combative than the imaginary black ones, perhaps due to stereotypes about yappy white lap-dog terrors. {snip}

{snip}

Whatever the precise mix of bias and bad luck, some white knights are riding to black dogs’ defense. Many shelters have discounts on dark-furred animals, and D.C.’s Lucky Dog Animal Rescue recently held a Back in Black Fashion Show, in which a select group of eight adoptable pooches flaunted their ebony coats. {snip}

“It’s just so irrational that people would think the color of a dog’s fur has anything to do with its character,” says Levy, the photographer.

{snip}

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  • MekongDelta69

    Slate:
    Just when you were hoping there were no new ways to be racist

    Me:
    “Just when you were hoping there were no new ways Slate could be insane…”

    • willbest

      Not me, I want to see how far down the rabbit hole goes.

    • Oil Can Harry

      Talk about a dishonest opening line.

      Slate magazine really meant “Just when we were afraid we couldn’t invent new ways to falsely accuse whites of racism…”.

  • JackKrak

    So I guess the fact that black wedding dresses are not chosen as often as white ones are suggests “racism” too, eh, Slate?

    • Erasmus

      And what’s with the white cotton balls, underwear and bed sheets? And do we need any more proof that God is a racist than that fresh snow is always white? Where did that come from?

      • me

        Toilet paper, tablet paper, q-tips, snow, clouds, polar bears, vanilla ice cream, white bread, daises, cotton, milk, shaving cream, deodorant, bar soap, laundry soap, washing machines, dryers, freezers, toasters, cake, whipped cream, cottage cheese, Styrofoam, baking powder, flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, glue, sheep, ducks, chickens, teeth, golf balls, eggs, potatoes, roses, book pages, mayonnaise, butter, lard, popcorn, cream cheese, cheesecake, apple flesh, banana flesh, grapes, wine, sheet rock, picket fences, pvc pipes, toilets, bathtubs, sinks, showers, sheets, bed pillows, mattresses, tee shirts, underwear, wedding dresses, rice, ice skates, rabbit fur, wool, sheet rock, picket fences, flowers, doves, diamonds, angel wings, pearls, the moon, stars, and the sun…(partial list). There ya go, Slate. This should keep you sub-human imbeciles busy for awhile. BTW, let’s ban all non-Whites from using any of these items, since they’re all white and RACIST.

  • Pro_Whitey

    Puggg? Rosenmops? Comments? I must say I prefer a fawn pug to a black pug.

    • Sharps Rifle

      The black coated pugs look like little Angus dogs to me. Just as cute and just as friendly as the buckskin ones.

  • TruthBeTold

    I don’t believe it.

    I don’t believe people reject dogs because they’re blacks.

    Fur blacks in not African-skin black.

    The idea is retarded.

    • connorhus

      People don’t. It’s just Black dogs run around breeding more and then leaving their puppies on the public dole in shelters. There are just more black dogs out there needing homes and it’s racist to point out the facts 🙂

      C’mon it’s gotta be White people waaaaycism at fault.

      • Bobbala

        lol

    • M.Magog

      I think that perhaps people DO choose a dog by it’s color and,well, blondes are always in more demand.

      • Alexandra1973

        Unless you want a smart woman.

        (Yes, I’m brunette, and yes, I’m only kidding.)

        • MikeofAges

          You are?

        • Who Me?

          LOL (But you know, we redheads are the smartest, don’t you? Somebody once did a study that said so and you believe everything that a study says don’t you…)

        • me

          The stereotype of the ‘dumb blonde’ is anti-White racism….

    • me

      Black dogs are harbingers of ghosts, evil, bad luck, doom, and death. These superstitions go back thousands of years–along with black cats, black roosters, etc. Black dogs are associated with evil. Hecate’s dogs, Cerebus, the Hounds Of Hell, black dogs in witchcraft, and black dogs in malevolent magic are all part of the occult traditions. If Slate writers and editors had half a brain between them all, they’d have looked for a different example of White ‘racism’….talk about desperation! I can smell it!

      • gemjunior

        Yesss! I wish I saw this before writing a similar post up top….

  • David Ashton

    His Hopeless the Nincompope was recently reported to complain that modern Europeans seem to prefer owning babies to dogs. I have noticed during this seaside holiday season in my Norfolk town how many couples walk tiny fluffy dogs, even strapping bald-headed walking tattoos seem to have little feather-dusters on leads – very few “real” dogs, black or any other color. It is even more noticeable than the old white men with oriental women and the young black men with white ones. Still, this year there seems to be a good crop of white babies, toddlers and small families.

    • Shawn_thefemale

      “Real” dogs?

      • David Ashton

        Dogs originally bred as hunting or farming animals, not cute miniature lapdogs with added buttons and bows.

  • TruthBeTold

    The most elegant social events feature black dresses or black tuxes.

    Seriously, the color of black skin (generally brown) does not translate to racist hate of anything black.

    People who believe this should be certified and thrown in a padded cell.

  • IstvanIN

    Thank goodness only 20% of blacks own dogs, they are better off being put down than being made to live with blacks who will not care for them properly and probably abuse them.

    • Sick of it

      My mother’s dog was abandoned by a black and she’s absolutely adorable. They have no taste.

      • SoulInvictus

        Best dog I ever had was left by blacks to starve and dehydrate to death in a trailer park. We should have named him gratitude (Grrrrattitude?;) because after rescuing him from that situation, he was the most loyal and appreciative creature I’ve ever seen for the rest of his days.

        • TruthBeTold

          I was in a bike store and a mean lookin’ black guy came in with a Rottweiler. Her name was Susie.

          She looked up at me with the saddest eyes so I knelt down and petted her.

          The mean lookin’ black guy yanked her chain and said, ‘Susie’ (which is how I knew her name).

          Of course he wasn’t talking to Susie. He just didn’t like some white boy being nice to his dog.

          And she definitely needed and deserved someone nice.

    • De’Ontavious Jizzaiah Jones

      Every time I see a black with a dog at Petco or Pet smart I cringe and am deeply disturbed for the rest of the day. 2 days ago I saw a black father with 2 black teenage sons with a husky in a Petco in central FL. A husky should not be sold anywhere in Fl as it is a cold weather dog and will suffer here in the summer heat. I really felt sorry for it having to live with blacks. At my former job the black secretary would periodically say she wanted to get a dog for her grandkids. I and 2 other white animal lovers would talk her out of it every time.

  • Jonathan Vere

    This is what you get when you conflate color with race.

    • Lagerstrom

      Yes. The ‘imbessle’ that wrote this article opened up with “it turns out that people could be racist against dogs”. This rubbish has gone so far that one finds it hard to tell whether these people are joking, or whether they’re serious.

  • MikeofAges

    People don’t adopt black dogs because they fear the black dog will be more aggressive and have a stronger drive to follow its own agenda rather than the host family’s. Canine “killer bee” syndrome.

  • Bobbala

    Hint: It is not the color that makes Africa (or Detroit) … It takes a village. The people, not the dirt.

  • M.Magog

    The thing about black is, it just doesn’t work, it goes with nothing, it just lays there, it’s dull….

    • TruthBeTold

      I disagree. The COLOR black is elegant. Think of a black tie dinner party with a black grand piano and beautiful women in black dresses.

      As with most things, blacks have corrupted the COLOR black.

  • M.Magog

    Hmmm. We had a black lab. People actually BREED and pay lots of money for those and other pure bred dogs.

  • NoMosqueHere

    The effect with black cats is even more pronounced. Many people, even in our time, are afraid of black cats. It’s balmy, but most people prefer lighter fur.

  • Medizin

    Do these dogs look mean?

    • gemjunior

      It makes me barf how they practically gush all over when they find a black person who behaved in a remotely human manner. Even the most low-down criminal would pick up a baby off the road and care for it for a short time and call the authorities. But when a negro does, it’s a cause for wonder. Hear the newsman as he gushes forth with praise and wonder, and practically wets his panties. Gross.

  • Sick of it

    In my experience, people like Dobermans. People like dark pugs. People like dark Shih Tzus. Black labs have been popular. Are these guys on crack?

    • Alexandra1973

      I love Dobermans. When I was a teenager I used to have my Doberman pull me on my skateboard. I think I was Heidi’s favorite human.

  • RisingReich

    I would be more concerned with a dog that came from a black family. Likely to have been abused and of unpredictable temperament.

  • ncpride

    I saw the most incredibly gorgeous dog the other day at a stoplight ….he/she was riding in a car with it’s owner. Not sure what breed it was, but it looked like a mix between a Golden Retriever and a Siberian Husky, and this dog was solid, pure White.

    • Standup Broad

      Possibly a Great Pyrenees. Lovely temperament, coat maintenance a nightmare.

      • ncpride

        Thank you! I searched Great Pyrenees and that is exactly the dog I saw. I’ve never heard of the breed, but they are certainly beautiful. I can see the headache with grooming, but the owner of the beauty I saw obviously takes great care of her ‘baby’.

    • SoulInvictus

      White dogs are awesome.

      • RisingReich

        White German Shepherds are a great breed. A bit more timid then the black and brown ones. I can’t lie – I love them both.

  • Alexandra1973

    What a joke.

    My family has had plenty of black dogs over the years. We once had a black Doberman named Lady (along with a red one named Rusty). Years later we had–all at once–a Boston terrier (mostly black, some white fur) named Mimi, a black Doberman named Heidi, and a black Great Dane named Ceasar. Then they’ve had other black dogs since I moved out in 1993.

    I wonder when people will start getting in trouble because they prefer brunettes over blondes and don’t like redheads (like my husband). LOL

  • Luca

    I would choose a black dog over a black person every day of the week and twice on Sunday.

    • Einsatzgrenadier

      At least having a large population of black dogs won’t result in the destruction of entire cities (Detroit), countries (Haiti) or continents (Africa). I’d much rather have 40 million black dogs than 40 million black people.

      • Sick of it

        They’d chase away the black people…

  • Evette Coutier

    Let’s settle the myth of black. It’s not the skin color. It’s the behavior.

  • NotTooSwift

    Perhaps it has something to do with shedding.

  • Sharps Rifle

    What a load of crap! My first dog was a black mixed-breed and he was the cutest puppy I’d ever seen! My second dog was also a black-furred mixed-breed, and most of my dogs have had black coats! A good dog is a good dog…and Slate is full of more manure than a feed lot!

  • SoulInvictus

    Given my avatar, I felt I needed to comment.
    Nothing to add really, just felt White Dogs deserve equal time.;)
    Bonus points if you remember the movie.

  • JJCULLEN

    I like my black lab/? more than my grandkids…..

  • Shawn_thefemale

    I love dogs. LOVE them. I have a few favorite breeds, but for the most part I love ’em all. Currently I have a fawn Boxer & a black & white Shih Tzu. Though Poodles are not one of my special faves, one of the most gorgeous dogs I’ve ever seen was a standard black Poodle owned by a groomer. Black are just like every other color dog: some are gorgeous, some are not; some are just great dogs, some are not. Fortunately, Katy’s dogs love her regardless that she’s a dingbat.

  • CJ Haze

    Having volunteered at Humane Societies for two decades, let me tell you what’s racist.

    1) 99%+ of volunteers are white, with a low chance of black volunteers. Go on, Google it; ________(insert city name) Humane Society. Look at the volunteers, then notice the employees. Black people don’t give a S about animals.

    2) Guess who is surrendering animals in the city? Not white folks. Nope, not Asians. Nuh uh, not Latinos. It’s blacks. It’s blacks blacks blacks blacks and more blacks. Then more blacks after that. And after intake is full; there’s more blacks. Dogs are viewed as — in the inner cities — by blacks as property protection or home-breeding cash crops.

    Seriously: Google “________ Humane Society” and click images. Use any “black city” name you can think of to fill in the blank. Detroit, Camden, Atlanta, Birmingham, L.A., St. Louis, Jacksonville. See it for yourself. In black-majority or high-representation cities, there are NO BLACK PEOPLE volunteering to help animals.

    • neverevrland

      I’m going to have to disagree with you with regards to Latinos dumping animals. I visit shelters in majority Mexican cities quite often and I have seen plenty of them dumping dogs at shelters. Usually it’s the same old story about the puppy that grows up and gets ignored because it isn’t cute and cuddly anymore. The owners get tired of buying it food and Juanita decides one morning that ‘Chico” is going to the pound.
      Blacks are the absolute worst of course. In my eyes they simply should not be allowed to own dogs of any breed. They lack the natural empathy for animals that is required to properly care for a dog or any animal for that matter.

      • TruthBeTold

        see my comment above.

    • Groovy

      White people like their dogs more than their kids, a bunch of morons. That’s why they go to Haiti and adopt kids

    • I have volunteered at shelters and can verify everything you say. However it’s also true–as neverevr says below–that latinos are also conspicuously disrespectful to animals. Travel in Latin America and you’ll see what I mean.

    • Wholly Unconvinced

      I have to comment on the “not Latinos” bit as well, because it’s not exactly accurate. Blacks are certainly the most prevalent group that surrender animals, but Latinos and blacks both have animals taken from them by groups like the aspca or some forms of animal control in massive numbers due to abandonment, malnourishment, abuse, illegal dogfighting rings, etc.

      I think you basically haven’t witnessed the “darker” side (a pun!) of things in its entirety, there are rescue groups which receive 90% of their animals from black and brown people, and usually because of abuse. And a large number of these dogs are “put down” because they are either too violent, too broken (literally, multiple fractures which healed on their own because they weren’t taken to a vet, so the limb is permanently lame, causing constant pain) or simply look like they may be violent, ie: scars all over their face from repeatedly being kicked, bottles smashed in their faces, etc. And no one would ever adopt them because of the appearance.

      I mention this bexcuse a great deal of people have absolutely no idea about a lot of this, those nice volunteer groups run by 40 something white women and a few 20ish guys here and there often have no idea themselves, they come in contact with the animals who are voluntarily turned in by the semi civilized middle class blacks, or they receive animals from rescuers who act as the middle man between the darkness and those humane societies.

      Anyway, I’m rambling, but there is an absolutely revolting amount of animal abuse, literally torture in many cases, which to me is another indicator of the sociopathy inherent in blacks and to some extent, browns. And most people (whites) will never have the faintest idea because they’re isolated by the closed loop of “most horrible cases, dog is quietly put down”

      Everything else is more or less spot on.

    • Fighting_Northern_Spirit

      I knew a guy who worked in animal control, and he reports that here in Los Angeles Armenians dwarf all competition when it comes to animal abuse, then Hispanics, then Blacks.

  • Adolf Verloc

    My best-loved dog of all time, Max, was a black lab/chow who came as a package deal with his “prettier’ half-sister from the Humane Society. I was living in Austin at that time, and I remember when the Williamson County Humane Society had a “Black is Beautiful” campaign to encourage adoption of black dogs and cats. An NAACP bigwig raised hell about the campaign until the local director told him to stop making an ass of himself.

  • JDInSanD

    And some good Irish names put this piece together:

    Katy Waldman – Writer – Her picture’s in the original story
    Mirah Horowitz – Executive director of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue
    Fred Levy – Photographer – Black Dog Project

  • Anon

    I’ll call this one an out and out lie. You have to be careful when dealing with humane society types. They are all liberals. And like other liberals, they feel free to lie about anything and everything. Finding out the most basic, basic of issues from them is extremely difficult. It’s also extremely difficult to get basic cooperation from them when your interests intersect with them because of all the toxic side agendas they have. Just try to adopt a pet from a shelter and you will immediately understand.
    Dogs….there is no issue with dogs, at all. Almost all dogs get adopted except for those who should not be adopted. In fact, it is often difficult to get these jackasses to destroy a dangerous animal without involving the police (which is not rare, by the way). Most dogs, this is not really a problem. But a tiny handful…..well….some little old lady ends up in the hospital and fido ends up being gassed, and everyone knows it’s going to happen before it does. Black dogs? Come on. Even basic experience out in the world reveals that lots of people have black dogs. Dobermans, for example, are one of the most common dogs people have.
    Cats are the real problem. Roughly half of cats in the shelter will never be adopted and have to be put down. Why? Litterbox issues. Kittens are taught by their mother to use a litterbox. If they are not, it takes some effort to teach them as adult cats (I’ve actually done this with a feral cat). MOST people are simply not smart enough to do it. Large numbers of cats in shelters don’t understand and need to be taught by humans. No one wants to do it, so, a few weeks after being adopted, they end up right back in the shelter. Never really understood this myself as cats are self-domesticating animals and solitary hunters. Their relationship with humans is flexible. If your cat won’t use the litterbox inside, you can always leave him outside. As long as you pet him and feed him, he will happily live in your yard without problems, as long as he is fixed.

    • TruthBeTold

      It’s a ‘progressive’ liberal myth created to make people believe that racism is so evil it even extends to dogs.

      Complete lie.

    • Who Me?

      I’ve never had a problem training a cat to use a litterbox. Literally, you show him/her where it is, put the cat in the box, and use it’s paws to scratch the sand around a little bit, they “got it”. Then keep the litterbox in the same place for several weeks so the cat knows where to find it. It’s best to do this after putting the box in it’s permanent place. Oh, and keep it cleaned, for everybody’s sake. Some of these cats were grown (no idea of their age) and had lived outside all their lives.

  • dd121

    I had a black lab and I loved that dog. He didn’t bark in Ebonics fortunately.

  • A Freespeechzone

    The PC crowd tries to find racism in any way they can….

    No story here….

  • rightrightright

    Mohamed didn’t like dogs and was frightened of black dogs. It says so in his old book, thus licensing the torture of dogs by people who were anyway exceptionally cruel, with or without their creed.

    Black Labradors are exceptionally bright and are happiest as working dogs. On the other hand, on the extremely rare occasion when a Lab goes mean, it is usually black.

    When I got my Lab, I utterly wasn’t bothered what colour it would be and I am not convinced by this article that people generally are affected by a dog’s colour. Mine is a chocolate girl, as it turned out, with awesome instincts but thick, daft and placid with regard to her non-instinct-driven brains, thus true to the chockie stereotype. Why aren’t the chockies considered in this piece of drivel?

    • Anglokraut

      Didn’t the Clinton’s chocolate lab run into traffic? He would have had a better life as a hunting dog, instead of a prop in a political family.

      • jane johnson

        Guess Hillary couldn’t keep either of her dogs on the porch.

  • Quote: Because of the way the camera averages out exposure levels over the entire scene, Levy explains, “often all you’ll see of the dog is a black silhouette and a big tongue.”

    Cameras be racist!

  • De’Ontavious Jizzaiah Jones

    In reality black cats and dogs are very far superior to black humans. My best pets ever in my 52 years have been a black lab and a black cat. But my color line is drawn there .

  • Lagerstrom

    What a load of crapola. What about a black Labrador? Everyone loves a black lab!

    • Who Me?

      My daughter and son-in-law have a black lab/unspecified hound mix, all black, not a white hair on him. He’s the size of a small mountain. The grandkids can (and have) done everything to that dog short of setting him on fire, and he just lays there and takes it, eventually he will get up and walk away if he can without dislodging one of the kids.

  • Who Me?

    “It’s just so irrational that people would think the color of a dog’s fur has anything to do with its character,” says Levy, the photographer.
    ——————————-
    It’s just so irrational that people would think that someone’s choice of the color of their dog’s fur would be indicative of racism.
    Choice of a certain dog involves many things, but racism based on the color of it’s fur isn’t even on the list for any rational animal lover.
    I’ve known lots of people who have chosen pets based on everything from, “The fur is that same color as my carpet so it won’t show up so much” to the more practical reasons such as possible temperament of the breed or how well that particular puppy reacted to their kid, but NEVER on “I don’t want a black dog because I don’t like black people.”
    (Hey, I’m not fond of black people myself, but I’ve owned 3 black dogs, and several all-black cats.)

  • AmericanCitizen

    I know a woman who works at a shelter who told me that black cats are a hard adopt because of the old black cat superstitions, unlucky, witch’s cat, etc. I have a black cat and he’s great, so at least for me myth destroyed.

  • Anglokraut

    I have a rescued Golden Retriever/Chow mix, and he is a never-ending shed-fest of pale gold fur and white undercoat. Despite being my “big gold bear” and a total cuddle-bug now, he still has his issues with trust, epilepsy, and marking new places. Not exactly the kind of issue-free low maintenance that, IMO, the typical “Slate” reader would want.

  • sestamibi

    Hey, mama said the way you groove, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove . . .

  • gemjunior

    More Stupidity, courtesy of the race baiters. Here’s the deal: For hundreds of years, black dogs were seen to be “familiars” of the devil or of a demon. Black cats for some reason are more well known to be associated with witches and Halloween, but black dogs played an almost equal part in folk legend. Pick up any book about the mythology of the occult especially in Celtic legend and you will find that lone black dogs are feared. Whites might be deracinated but some parts of the past may stick with us…. Remember the move “The Omen?” for example, how many times a black dog appeared, or a jackal? People are spooked by that. It would be like asking a black person to play dolls with a voodoo doll.

    • LHathaway

      Thanks for squaring us away and telling us the real deal (sarcasm off).

  • PopTheLid

    Slate is nuts. In example Black labradors are one of the most widely adopted breeds/pets in the country.

    If they are this wrong about simple pet adoptions, imagine when they try and talk about people.

  • Strider73

    We acquired a black kitten from neighbors who did not want to keep her. For 15 years she was the light of our lives. Extremely affectionate, nonstop laughs, and a lot smarter than most black people. The day she had to be euthanized still stands as the worst day of my life, even 13 years on.

    For the record, most shelters will not allow adoption of black cats during October, since they are often tortured and killed in Halloween voodoo rituals.