People are not the only ones who experience discrimination.

Dogs and cats face the same issue simply because of the color of their fur. Its referred to by the ASPCA as Black Dog Syndrome when black dogs don’t get adopted as easily as those with lighter colored coats.

David Wellington, supervisor of Copperas Cove Animal Control, said big dogs experience even more discrimination.

“Black Dog Syndrome affects shelters worldwide. For some reason black dogs and cats sit at shelters longer and are looked over even if they have a playful personality, are highly social, great with other animals, and good with kids,” Wellington said. “When someone comes to adopt an animal they usually want small, fluffy, or cute. (Black dogs and cats) are some of the animals that have been here the longest and rescues don’t take many black animals because they are full also.”

In a 2011 ASPCA study, people who adopted both puppies and adult dogs said they chose the animals based largely on appearance. Black dogs are often characterized to be mean and violent just as black cats are believed to be bad luck.

Black dogs also do not photograph as well, and shelters often will select dogs and cats with a lighter colored fur to highlight for adoption.

The Copperas Cove Herald features photos of four dogs for adoption at animal control every Friday. The dogs are selected by shelter staff. Of the 16 dogs featured over the last four weeks, only three of them were black. This lack of exposure may affect the adoption rate of dogs with dark coats.

Mathew Woods of Copperas Cove owns a black cocker spaniel. He said he picked out the dog because of its breed and the color was not a factor in his selection.

Currently at animal control, 50 percent of cats available for adoption are black and nine of the 18 available dogs are black or mainly black in color. However, the Cove animal control shelter has an adoption rate that is higher than some other city shelters in the area. The black dog that has been at the shelter the longest arrived Oct. 23, while the black cat with the longest stay arrived about 10 days ago, according to animal control.

Contact Wendy Sledd at or (254) 501-7476

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