Are you being pet racist? 

Black Dog Syndrome is when a black dog is passed over for adoption in favor of lighter-colored animals. For the purposes of this post, when we use the term “Black Dog Syndrome” we’re also including black cats as well. Both seem to have a harder time getting adopted than those pets lighter in color. 

Though Black Dog Syndrome isn’t always a problem at the Islip Animal Shelter, we do seem to have spells where we have an exceptional amount of black (or mostly black) pets overlooked. Are people really racist when it comes to choosing a pet?

What is the reason that these animals are overlooked?
There are a number of reasons we can list for this problem. Here are just some reasons we found while searching the web:
1) Black dogs are often portrayed as aggressive in film and on television. The bad guy in a movie is always the one wearing dark colors. Same with the dogs. The aggressive dog is always a darker color, compared to say a happy yellow Lab as your typical American family dog, or to Lassie, an American Hero.
2) Some people believe that potential owners associate the color black with evil or misfortune (similar to the common superstition surrounding black cats.)
3) Photo profiles of dogs on the shelter websites never look as good for black pets. Because black pets do not photograph well, lighter-colored dogs and cats have an advantage with potential adopters browsing the site. – (This is very true. Being the one who takes the photographs of the dogs, I can totally agree, black pets are harder to photographer. Their photos don’t come out as nice as I ever want them to, and they never do that pet justice. You really need professional experience and equipment to photograph black animals.)
4) If the kennels are in dark areas, these dogs seem to be lurking in shadows (even if they’re not), and they simply don’t “show” as well as lighter-colored dogs. In improved lighting conditions, like outdoors on a sunny day for example, someone might see the beautiful rich luster of a black dog’s coat, however the lighting in many shelters is not optimal, and this works to the disadvantage of darker dogs.
5) Black fur shows up on everything. We’ve heard that excuse multiple times. For those who don’t wear black every day like I do, I suppose you do notice black fur on your clothes more than tan or brown? I don’t know… hair is hair, you’ll still be covered in it no matter what color it is…
Scientific studies have shown that people see dogs with light coats as more agreeable, conscientious, and emotionally stable. People feel they’ll make a better pet all-around.
Well, that’s just simply not true! We have a bunch of amazing dark-colored animals for adoption who will love you just as much as any other colored dog or cat. They are smart, well-behaved animals who are tired of being overlooked.
Open your mind, your heart, and your home to one of these animals today!

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These animals are available for adoption or foster care. If interested in them, please visit them in person at 210 South Denver Avenue in Bay Shore, NY. Or shoot us an email at


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