'Black cat and black dog syndrome:' Color plays role in adopting of cats and dogs

January 2, 2013 4:21:45 PM PST
Don't let a black cat cross your path and watch out for the big black dog. Those are warnings we hear all our lives, and apparently, we take them to heart. Just ask the Anti-Cruelty Society.

At Chicago's Anti-Cruelty Society, we find one of those stories that's very hard to understand. It's about black dogs. Nice black dogs. And, black cats, nice black cats.

But, no matter how nice they are, when these animals end up in shelters, many of them experience something called "black cat and black dog syndrome."

"They are the hardest dogs to get out of an animal shelter," said Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society's Karen Okura. "We can only suspect but people don't like to talk about it ... But we can only assume that black dogs are harder to read. It's harder to see their eyes."

That could be one reason, but it also could have something to do with the books we read and the movies we see as kids. Often, there is a conflict between black and white.

"You know, the guy with the black hat is the bad guy, the guy with the white hat is the good guy. So I'm sure that's part of it," said Okura.

This isn't something that's just happening here at the Chicago Anti-Cruelty Society. It's happening across the country. So, if you're a black dog or a black cat, it's bad luck.

There are no statistics showing how many black cats and dogs go un-adopted because of their color, but those in the business say the black cat and dog syndrome is very real.

So, the next time you head to Anti-Cruelty -- or any animal shelter - - look at them like they look at us. They're color blind.