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« Fallout from Oreo's Law teaches us that old habits die hard | Main | Our pit bull ban isn't working, so let's keep it says Sioux City »

July 02, 2010

Comments

Rinalia

I have opinions!

When I volunteered at two shelters, the two most common dogs I saw in the kill room were Pit Bulls and black dogs. Like you said, this could be b/c there are more of them. That said, even black Labs were killed quite frequently at both shelters while their yellow counterparts were not (we did not get in that many chocolate Labs).

We did not adopt out a large number of Pit Bulls, even though there were a lot of them in the shelter. People didn't come to the shelter to adopt Pit Bulls. Puppies were an exception. Pit Bull puppies moved out like hotcakes, although I was there long enough to see - random guess here - 15-30% of them end up back at the shelter (we microchipped, few people re-did the information).

Think about it: You can get a Pit Bull puppy for $50, sometimes less through the paper or craigslist. At the county shelter where I volunteered, you paid more than double that for any puppy. It's easy to get Pit Bulls because they are overbred and readily available. Most people want puppies, most Pit Bulls in shelters are juveniles or adults. Goodness knows why, give me an adult dog any day.

And with the reputation Pit Bulls have, I can understand why people shy away from unknown shelter dogs and drift to a) people they know; b) people who can produce sire and dam to meet and c) people who supposedly know the history of their dogs.

And thus endeth my opinion!

YesBiscuit!

One thing that is indisputable: Big black dogs are difficult to get decent photos of to post on Petfinder and difficult for adopters to see in dimly lit, indoor shelters. First impressions mean a lot. And if adopters are browsing 50 pets, they may well pass the dark blur of a BBD simply because they didn't feel an immediate connection.

H Houlahan

I have a chocolate Lab here for rehoming.

When I contacted the local Lab rescue to inquire about a courtesy listing, I was told that I was lucky he was brown, because they were finding it impossible to place black dogs over a year old.

I agree that big black dogs and pit bulls are probably easy to move as puppies, notsomuch as adults.

This could be easily tested by just coding dogs for size and color as they enter any large municipal kill shelter, and recording whether they were redeemed, adopted, rescued, or killed, and also the amount of time they spent in the kennel available for adoption.

In last year's puppymill rescue, where unsold pups had been just tossed out back to live or die, we noted that a lot of the dogs had black faces -- no white blazes, as is more typical of the breed. And the vast majority were black and white, while foundation stock included quite a few sable and white and tricolor individuals. The younger the dog, the higher the probability of him being black and white.

I theorize that gorgeous little sable and white pups with white blazes on their faces were the ones that sold on the puppymill's website. The little black-faced beasties were left behind.

YesBiscuit!

I just wanted to add that, if I was ever looking for a dog and someone whose judgment I respected said to me "I have a very good dog that would be a good match for you", I would say yes in a heartbeat. I truly would not care if he was a big black dog or a little yappy dog or a medium scruffy dog.

Maybe I'm not alone? Maybe we could translate this to shelter success?

The shelter greeter must be someone whose opinion the adopter respects - shouldn't be too hard.

The shelter person must offer an honest opinion after talking with the adopter about home life, experience, etc - again, shouldn't be hard as most people WANT to make successful matches.

If introduced to the black blur you passed by on your first run-through as "This just might be the perfect friend for you!" - I bet at least some people would give that dog serious consideration. I would.

jan

In my experience volunteering at shelters, big black dogs were the most difficult to place. Not urban legend. It may be a matter of supply and demand. Many black dogs plus irresponsible owners produce many more black puppies so that supply quickly exceeds demand.

Zia

If there's two reasons I suspect it could be true they would be 1) black hair shows up more on floors and upholstery 2) most people think smaller dogs are easier to manage because they take up less space and can be picked up and moved around...Hence larger dogs don't go as fast.

greenkozi

I agree with the posters who have said that even with labs, people want yellow or chocolate, not black. Partially, we see more black ones, but I have had people say, no, I'm looking for a yellow one. I've had people spout myths about temperament (once I found a site and printed it out to have it at the front counter from a lab site that basically said all colors are created equal, temp-wise), but it didn't matter. People want yellow.

In terms of pit bulls, my experience is also the same as Rinalia's- puppies get adopted, while the others, the ones who come in droves because pit bull puppies are fun, pit bull adolescents are normal dogs, sit. One of the reasons I see for pit bulls being bought, not adopted, in a city setting, is that a lot of the people who want pit bulls fall in demographics that shelter/rescues haven't reached in their targeted educating yet. So do-gooders, with more access to information, are spaying and neutering and adopting, even if they don't really WANT a pit bull, they're doing it. People who WANT a pit bull, are buying puppies. They want a puppy, because you can raise them right, because they want to have a blue nose red nose purple nose bully. They may not know about how many pit bulls are in shelters, they may not have been in a shelter. They may want something different from their dog- a guard dog, or an outdoor dog, something a shelter or rescue may not be prepared to adjust to give them.

I'm not judging, in fact, I think part of the blame here is on the "rescue people" who have done a decent job at getting white, middle to upper class people to accept spayed and neutered pit bulls and pit mixes into their homes. There's a lot more out there.

Social Mange

Ditto for black cats.

Katie

I will admit, on Petfinder or at the shelter, my eye is drawn to flashier dogs. Black dogs aren't anything special. Plain, dark, the mediocre lighting of a shelter certainly not a benefit. It's not a matter, for me, of actively selecting *against* black dogs. It's simply that I am not as visually attracted to them.

Interestingly, I've owned two black (well, Mushroom is seal but his paperwork says black and he looks black indoors) non-flashy pit bulls. One I chose because a friend knew about him and recommended him as a good fit for my household, and the other I adopted because he was an old, medium-sized male dog, which is what I was looking to bring home.

Lori

I just LOVE the person who is donating time to take quality photos of the animals available at Indianapolis Animal Care & Control. Even the big black dogs looks great: http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/video/video.php?v=1515742899313

Brad Jensen

You're right Lori, the IACC photos are awesome!

Brent, I ran a real quick check some time ago using records I had from Los Angeles Animal Services and the reason I did this is because I wanted to see what truth (if any) there was to "Black Dog Syndrome". To simplify the process I looked at only the primary colors of dogs impounded for a 12 month period (Sep08-Aug09). Size of the dog was not taken into consideration.

The total number of dog impounds was a little over 32,000.

The results I got were that 27% of all dog impounds were BLACK in color and 47% of them were adopted by the public.

22% of all dog impounds were BRONW in color and 43% of them were adopted by the public.

Now two more...

17% of all dog impounds were WHITE in color and 49% of them were adopted by the public.

16% of all dog impounds were TAN in color and 52% of them were adopted by the public.

Now since you're post is about BIG Black Dogs I gave it a shot the other night and tried including primary breed information with color (since I don't have animal size in this set of records). I don't know how helpful any of this is but here's what I got for some of the black dogs:

53% of 622 Short Hair Chihuahuas adopted
47% of 833 Lab and Lab mixes adopted
32% of 529 Rottweilers adopted
31% of 569 AmStaff and PitBulls adopted

Jerry Bane

First, there's a ton of BS that comes out of the shelters and humane society; but the Black Dog Syndrome applies to the basic black mixes (Lab/Shepherd..Lab/Pit) common seen in shelters. Put a purebred Black Lab or a close resemblance and they won't have any problem being adopted.

Brent

Brad -- thanks for the numbers. I figured SOMEONE had done some actual research on this.

So, at least based on one shelter, black dogs are the #1 color in the shelter, and a larger percentage of them get adopted than brown dogs, but slightly fewer than white or tan. But all of those numbers are pretty close.

And can someone please figure out how to get all of those chihahuas out of the shelter and to the midwest? We can adopt them out all day long, I can't believe that the shelter had to kill 300 of them.

I'm not surprised at the breed order in those numbers -- that makes complete, logical sense.

Katie's point is interesting too -- that I do think certain types of dogs are "flashier" when in consideration with other dogs -- ones with unique coloring and such. I think this is more of a 'marketing' issue than a nobody wants a big black dog issue.

And greenkozi -- there is little doubt that puppies move much more quickly than adult dogs -- regardless of what breed of dog is involved.

YB! - I do think that this is part of what makes a "meet your match" type of system effective is that it starts people in the direction of choosing the best dog for them based on behavior, not on what color he is.

MichelleD

"Someone told me" isn't RESEARCH. Thanks Brad for your statistical analysis.

The 2nd part of the question is how much does the turrets like 'no one wants big black dogs' actually turn people AWAY from them? Peer pressure is a HUGE influence on people and making people believe "everyone is doing it" will actually make them do things. So how much does "no one wants black dogs" make people not want black dogs?

Regardless, we need be promoting ALL dogs/cats (black, pit bull, old) like they are the greatest single furry being on earth! Because each ONE has something that makes them unique and fabulous! Let's stop with the "I suck and no one wants me because I'm big/black/pit bull/old" stuff because even if its true (and I'm not saying it is) it falls under the category of "you're not f*ing helping".

Lori

Random thoughts...

I've wondered about getting the black dogs into more visually appealing collars. Not expensive, but something brighter and more eye-catching -- even if it's just a really inexpensive fabric sleeve over a standard collar bandanas. (The greater the variety in sleeve/bandana options the better so that each dog can have as close to a unique sleeve/bandana as possible.)

I know most shelters don't really have the budget (and I've wondered if there are any safety concerns, especially for bandanas as well as wondering if they would be a dirt magnet that would end making the dogs look unkempt unless you change them regularly). While I don't know about the answer to the any safety concerns or dirt-magnet problems, it seems like the budget problem could be overcome if there was a practical/functioning collar sleeve with a very simple pattern or just standard bandanas.

The pattern(s) could be given to community groups to purchase materials, do any necessary cutting/sewing and donate them. (e.g. quilting groups often donate lap quilts to nursing homes, children hospitals, etc. or extra credit for students in junior high home-ec classes, etc.)

While black dogs don't usually catch my eye at the shelter, I've decided that I want to purposely look for a black dog the next time I'm adopting. I enjoy purchasing the occasional fancy collar for my dog and think that almost ANY collar/bandana looks good on black dogs. There are so many that I've seen that I like, but that don't really show up nicely on my yellow-ish/fawn dog whereas they (and anything I've bought for my dog) would looke terrific ona BLACK dog. I see being black (or dark brindle) as a POSITIVE to be featured.

Granted, not everyone buys any collar more fancy than a standard nylon collar, but for those looking for a dog who looks good in everything -- black dogs rock!

MichelleD

Lori, your bright/pretty collar bandana idea is exactly the kind of thinking we need. The bandanas could easily be taken off after adoption hours and hung on the outside of the cage. This would be a great project for school kids or retirement homes. And I bet there are certain materials that would be more sturdy and not get dirty so easily. GREAT IDEA!

You could have 3 different colors indicating high, medium and low energy to better help people choose a dog that fits their lifestyle.

Mary

Brent - you asked why so many chi's get killed in shelters. The reason is that a surprisingly large number of them are biters. I do all-breed rescue in FL. In the last 2 yrs we have taken in 5 pb chi's. 4 of those would bite anybody who reached out to pet them. My assumption is that people do not train or socialize these little dogs, and do not correct them for unacceptable behavior. They tend to be nervous dogs anyhow. A chi that snarls and growls left at the pound will be dead before the owners leave the parking lot. Even though they are small, they still have teeth, and liability being what it is, shelters cannot adopt them out. Rehabbing one of those little dogs takes a lot of time and patience. That's why chi rescue is always full.

Deb

Paws of the Planet provides shelters bright yellow bandanas for their big black dogs at no cost. They have a logo on them that says, "Out of the Cage - Into Your Heart". We ask that the shelters put the bandana on the dog for the photos on Pet Finder. One of our primary projects is raising awareness about big black dogs. You can also buy the bandanas for your own pets, or donate to the fund to provide the bandanas for shelters. For more information, visit www.pawsoftheplanet.org

Lee Kenniston-Mccain

Here in the northeast, puppies of any color are in such shortage that they are transported from the south by the truckloads on a regular basis. Last spring, I met and fell in love with a big black(puppy) dog that came from Georgia with his 10 siblings, mom and dad. He is the sweetest dog you'll ever meet. I have a yellow lab mix but it's only because I met him at the shelter 8 years ago and it was love at first sight. I would have loved his personality regardless of his color.

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