When you think there’s no more room for new forms of racism in the world, you discover that people can be racist against dogs.
While the dark-haired dogs remain in the kennels, their light-colored companions are adopted. This trend was named by the workers of the shelters of Black Dog Syndrome. “The effect is very real,” says Mirah Horowitz, executive director and founder of theLucky Dog Animal Rescue Dog Animal Rescue. “Recently we had a litter of five very cute dogs, two yellow and three black. The yellows left quickly. But the blacks stayed for weeks.”
Black dogs undergo euthanasia much more frequently. And they stay longer in adoption agencies than light-colored dogs. In general, they are less likely to find a home. Marika Bell, director of behavior and relocation at the Humane Society in Washington, DC, says the organization has been monitoring the animals that have been in their shelters for the longest time since March 2003.
They have come to the conclusion that these three characteristics can put the animal at risk of becoming a “hidden gem”: average size, age between 2 and 3 years and a black coat.
What kind of evil psychological trait would prevent someone from adopting a dog based on its color?
Animal welfare experts believe that discrimination arises from a number of factors. The set of myths surrounding black dogs is sinister. (Harry Potter’s Grim is a “big, black, ghostly dog that haunts the churches.” It’s a “bad omen, the worst of all, the omen of death!”
A 2003 study by psychologists at the Penn State showed that people find the images of black dogs more scary than those of yellow or brown dogs. Respondents classified animals from the dark as less adoptable, less friendly and more intimidating. Although the association between evil and black is more explicit in relation to cats. Dogs have to face a post-Samuel Johnson culture and Winston Churchill who uses the metaphor of the “big black dog” to symbolise depression.
It’s more difficult to introduce the necessary brightness into black dogs pictures.
However, it isn’t just superstition. With the rise of animal-based animal-based sites such as Petfinder and Petango, much of the adoption process takes place even before the first shelter visit. Unfortunately, it seems to be harder to get glamorous photos of black animals, as Fred Levy explains “Their faces look less expressive and their eyes go out.” Levy is the photographer responsible for the Black Dog Project, which tries to give dark-colored canines the treatment of stars they deserve (photographs with illumination problems can also trigger subtle racism).
Because of the way the camera establishes an average based on exposure levels over the entire scene, Levy says, “In general, all you can see is a black silhouette and a big tongue.” He solves the problem by placing your models against a black background. And Horowitz found that the videos work better than the photographs to capture the adorable personality of the dogs. But in the case of adoption programs that do not have video equipment or access to professional photographers, black animal photos are less convincing than those of light-colored dogs.
Visit to the shelter
The drama of the black dog doesn’t get easier during the visit to the shelter. While white and yellow pups attract people’s gaze, Horowitz says. The dark-haired are hidden by the shadows of the cages (so some rescue organizations train the black dogs to sit in front of the kennels at visiting times).
According to Bell, although black is not exactly the most common color among canines, it may seem so, which would make potential tutors who come to shelters looking for something different end up adopting a black dog.
Bell has her own theory about black dogs: “I think it’s all about facial expressions,” she explains. “People connect with dogs when they can read their facial expressions. But this is complicated in black dogs. You can barely see their eyebrows. It becomes more difficult to humanize them and create an emotional connection. “
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