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Black Dogs Face a Hard Choice at Shelter


“I’ve had to turn away many black dogs because I can’t fill the place up with them,” says Jill Wimmer, shelter manager at PAWS Atlanta, that city’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter. “And every one I turned away had a great temperament.” Wimmer knows that she can likely adopt out three dogs in the time it takes to find a home for one BBD.

Delaney’s advocacy for Mickie eventually paid off when Shonna Crompton of Ada, Minn., went online in April and came across Mickie’s forlorn face—stamped URGENT—on Wold’s Gemini Rescue site. “I couldn’t just let him die,” says Crompton.

In May, Delaney, Chase and Wold arranged for a network of volunteers to transport Mickie nearly 500 miles from Rising Sun, Ind., to Madison, Wisc. Crompton’s husband Shane drove Mickie another 400 miles to his new home in northern Minnesota. “His hip bones were protruding and his belly was sunken,” recalls Crompton of her first meeting with Mickie. “But he just sprawled out on the grass like it was the best feeling on the planet.”

Right now, Delaney is feeling pretty good herself, and hopes that her website, which is filled with black-dog facts, convinces more people to give a BBD a chance. She works for all the black dogs waiting in shelters and foster homes, and for the ones who never got a chance to know what it was like to play and be loved, she says. “I mostly just hope it helps people become aware of how overlooked and underadopted these dogs are,” says Delaney. “I had one person tell me, ‘Thank you for being an advocate for the black dog, because nobody else is.’”



This article first appeared in The Bark,
Issue 35: Mar/Apr 2006
Deb Hipp is a Kansas City, Mo.-area journalist and animal advocate.

Photograph by Diane Diederich

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Submitted by Anonymous | July 23 2012 |

I volunteer at a no kill shelter and have seen quite a few black dogs but majority of them have found homes. I am always drawn to the darker colored dogs. I love the color black and I just think that black dogs are so pretty.

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Submitted by Anonymous | August 13 2012 |

So true! We have 2 rescues - both black - and a foster - black again! The 1st dogs I go for when volunteering at the shelter are the black ones - because everyone else wants to give time to the little ones or the yellow ones or whatever. God Bless you for your work!

Submitted by Love Black Labs | September 10 2012 |

A few years ago I became aware of the shocking fact that black labs were killed in large numbers at shelters. These dogs are very loving and protective, especially of children. Given the chance they are gentle, loving, tolerant and loyal. People need to learn not to pin a false concept on any dog without doing some research. I have had a total of 7 dogs in my lifetime. The first was a black mutt. Then a set of two which consisted of a black mutt and golden retriever/shepherd; the next set was a black lab/husky and golden retriever/shepherd; and my current pair are shepherd and black lab/border collie mix. All of the black dogs coloring was about 95% black. It never occurred to me to be afraid of them, especially the large labs (100 plus pounds). The two black labs were shelter rescues. They each had been returned twice within a month or two. And for the life of me I can't figure out why. They were both house broken, had some training, smart, playful, loving, behaved around other dogs and children, adjusted to their new home without problems, and quick to learn. Just wanted to please and be loved - don't we all. I STRONGLY URGE ADOPTING BIG BLACK DOGS - ESPECIALLY LABS. I can't stress how loving they are. You have no idea what a great companion you are missing out on. My first black lab lived to age 10 and I miss him everyday. As I do all my dogs. Dogs, like people have their own personality, so pick a dog according to matching your personality than what color it is -give a BBD a chance.

Submitted by sharron | June 27 2013 |

we had a stray black lab follow my dad home while out on a run...he hung around outside ,all night then dad let him in,we had "blackie"for just over 20 year loyal,smart,ate anything and everything,most of all became our family. still miss him.

Submitted by Brian | November 19 2012 |

It would never occur to me to not get a black dog--I didn't even realize there was a stigma attached.

My current and past Standard Poodles were black. My Angie (the current one) is service dog trained (yes she is trained to be that way.) Traveling with her or just going for a walk is like being with a very friendly celebrity--she loves and is loved by lots of little kids. Control is and always been a very gentle thing--she's just a great dog.

I've known Labs (they're the black ones, btw) to be one of the least "messed with" breeds--their genetics aren't screwed up by inbreeding and as long as you kinda watch their diet, they tend to live a long and ridiculously happy, healthy life.

Submitted by Analytical Thinker | November 20 2012 |

Sounds like animal "racism" to me, is why I researched this. Most of the time I see on TV the Blonde dogs shown as the ultimate family pet. Another subtle way people are brain-washed into accepting the lighter is better attitude.

Sound familiar??

For years, and to this day black cats got a bad rap for being unlucky/bringers of bad luck and get kill just for being black.
While in Africa the people loved them for being the guardians and bringers of good luck.

Love the Golden Labrador, Hate the Black Labrador.
Love the Blondes, Hate the Brunettes.
Love Blue Eyes, Hate Dark Brown Eyes.
Love Light Skin, Hate Dark Skin.
Love White Skin, Hate Black Skin.

Think about It.

Submitted by Robin S. Allison | June 22 2013 |

Thing about black dogs not being in films...they don't photograph well. Neither do black cats. You have a blob of dog shaped black. Pet photographers (used to at least) lightly "tip" the subject's fur with gold paint just to create highlights. Right there is reason enough that black dogs don't get on TV.

Submitted by Anonymous | November 24 2012 |

My parents got me a black lab mix when I was five and she lived to be 17 almost 18 years old...and we just got my daughter one about a year and half ago, when she was five(along w/her sister who is yellow) who could have been a twin to the one I had growing up down to the white spot on her chest. Love both dearly and could not have imagined another dog growing up..

Submitted by Anonymous | November 24 2012 |

I had a black lab mix growing up from the time I was five until I was 22 almost 23. We just got my daughter (who was five at the time) a black lab mix a year and half ago along with her sister a yellow lab mix. And they are sooooo protective of my daughter..I know where she is when she is outside because the dogs follow her every where. I hope we are blessed enough to have them live as long as my dog did when I was growing up. (Mine was 17 almost 18 when we had to have her put down because her heart was giving out)

Submitted by Pat | December 9 2012 |

I have heard this before at adoption events at Petsmart and other places where I live. I don't think it has anything to do with black people at all - just that they are so "common" as if their color has anything to do with their personalities. I like what you all have said about black dogs. I think it applies to cats too - black is the most common color for cats. My black and white adopted the day before she was scheduled to "be put down" was sporting a red bandana the day I took my husband there to see whether he would agree that she was/is a sweetheart and worthy of a good home. We have now had her almost 15 years and she is a love.

Submitted by Chelsea | December 10 2012 |

I adopted my best friend in 2006, June, to be exact.
I had recently had a miscarriage, was 19, incredibly sad, and no where near family. Alot of my days had been spent lying in my bed while my boyfriend at the time, got wasted with our roommates in the garage. I was sick of being alone, and sad. He clearly didn't care about me, so, instead of spending yet another day in bed, one of my roommates and I decided to go to the local shelter in El Cajon, CA. We wandered through the kennels, and there he was. 17 weeks old, black and a little white, pittbull puppy. Originally, my roommate adopted, 'Jake', but for some reason Jake took a liking to me. He began sleeping with me, I'd walk him, take him on car rides, but mostly, he was there for me when no one was. I made him the promise that so long as he's living, he'll be with me where ever I go. I don't care that there's BSL, I will not condemn my best friend and now, my furry son to death because of his breed. He saved my life, and showed me more love than I could have imagined. Right now, he's sleeping at the foot of my bed, and I wouldn't have it any other way. He truly is my miracle puppy.

Submitted by Anonymous | February 25 2013 |

I just adopted a sweet,adorable almost totally black cockapoo puppy.Someone had even paid the full price,lost their money because they "changed their mind".Their loss is definitely my (and the little guy's)gain.I wonder about the color thing because my puppy was the only one of the litter who was almost completely black.Something to reflect on.I believe the color really was the deciding factor for them.I love him and am happy he's mine! Thank you.

Submitted by Charles | March 28 2013 |

I had no idea there was a stigma attached to black dogs. I have heard of evil people buying black cats for Halloween and treating them horribly. We bought our black lab mix puppy from the shelter because he was absolutely beautiful and had a sweet temperament. The worker told us black dog were not popular for adoptions and offered us several incentives from black dog rescue groups to take him home.

Submitted by Christine | July 19 2013 |

We adopted two black labs when they were six years old. We loved them to death and had them for seven years before they both passed away from old age. I can't believe people would pass up a beautiful sweet tempered dog because they're black!

Submitted by Mike Jameson | October 31 2013 |

We've had two BLACK Labs and both were (are) unforgettable, Bacchus was the first and we loved him intensely. Smart, strong, gentle and happy, Bacchus was a pure joy to know. He was stolen from our fenced back yard in his 12th year while out doing his business. After months of fruitless searching, we missed him so much we built a stone cairn to remember him by. Bacchus was "replaced" by Athena, a giant, blonde shedding machine of an Otterhound. She went to her great reward after 15 years. Then came the cutest BLACK Lab! We named her Artemis. She's with us now, the latest in a long line of "rescued" dogs that became family. Artemis is the happiest, most friendly, easiest-to-teach and SELF-HOUSE-TRAINED dog ever! A remarkable pet, we have come to love her as intensely as we fell for Bacchus. She is a slave to belly-rubs, a treat she discovered almost by accident one sunny afternoon. She is surely one of the smartest, most thoughtful dogs we've ever had the privilege to know. IN SHORT: do not pass by any black Lab at a shelter without understanding what you're missing should you decide on another breed or another color.

Submitted by Kate | October 31 2013 |

We noticed a thin black do running around the neighborhood with two large pups. Our neighbor threw out food for them and we could see them eating on a daily basis in her front yard and were pretty sure that this dog was used to leading a hard scrabble life.. One day we saw the black dog with no pups. We waited a week or two to make sure the pups were not still with her. Finally we enticed her to play ball and get treats.It was easy to see that she was not used to human contact but was gentle and had a "soft mouth" when accepting treats. Week or two more later we took her to the local Humane Association because we already had 3 dogs and a cat and just were trying to help a stray find a safe place..It was quite a trip getting her into the car and by the time we got to the Humane Shelter , she was a bit nervous. The lady at the fancy new Humane Shelter told us we ought to take her to the county shelter. I told her "Lady, they kill dogs that look like her every day" and she just shrugged. Well needless to say we hauled her back to our house.We got our vet to look at her , give her her first shots , got a little house for her and kept her out in our fenced in area for about ten days and then convinced her to come into our house. Now ,eight years later, she loves to come in the house and sleep on her pillow but will "guard" our fenced in back yard during the day.This black dog has been a wonderful companion for our other dogs and cat as well. Sheila has been the sweetest dog in the world and we are delighted that she let us keep her.

Submitted by cheryl facto | November 3 2013 |

i have had 3 black lad mixed dogs from the time they were born ,till they went to heaven.and i loved each of them. and Yes i would adopt another black dog

Submitted by Lynne | November 3 2013 |

There's a theory that black dogs are passed up because it's harder to detect their facial features, and therefore, harder to read their expressions and relate to them. (They don't have "eyebrows," for example.) It is harder to see them in photographs (and at night), but certainly not face-to-face. Their eyes contain just as much soul as any other dog's. You just have to look deeper to find it!

Submitted by Christine Pearcey | November 8 2013 |

I am a dog trainer. I often get asked, "What is your favorite kind of dog?" I always say, "Black dogs."

Submitted by Anonymous | November 12 2013 |

Thank you for this. I just adopted a black dog before he went to the shelter or pound, just to keep him from going . he is a character. and he fills out my family, husband and son. he loves them but when mom is home he is right by her at all times.

Submitted by Sarah | November 13 2013 |

I LOVE black dogs! When I adopt a dog(s), I pretty much ONLY want PURE black or brindled black! I can see the stigma in a black cat, but NOT a black DOG!

Submitted by E. Wilson | December 1 2013 |

Oy! It seems people are pretty darned comprehensive -- and committal -- with their idiot biases. Where I am, there is a concerted effort to place black cats and kittens that suffer under this stigma.


Submitted by Leasa | December 2 2013 |

I have two beautiful black girls that I love. They, when walking against the blue sky or white snow show such a beautiful striking picture. They are smart, loving and the best.

Submitted by CHRISTINE | January 4 2014 |

thanks for helping the black dogs.... i have three of them in my home they are the greats dogs i have ever had....i just went to the resuce about a month ago cause i lost one of my dogs he went over the rainbow brige.. i got a very well manned black lab black great dane wonderful dog

Submitted by david cuccia | February 1 2014 |

As a children's book author and illustrator, I go out of my way to use a black lab...our recently departed "princess jasmine" was the second of three black labs we've rescued! I'm constantly speaking at schools and I try to educate the kids as much as possible, about black dog syndrome and the stigma surrounding these beautiful animals! Jasmine's the star of my first book, There's A Crazy Dog Under the Palace!, and she'll be a prominent character in the next four books in this series! I'm also using my blog, The Magic Pencil to help educate the public about black dogs...it's a never ending struggle but a necessary struggle!

Submitted by Peggy Williams | June 17 2014 |

I own two big black female dogs and I love them. One was dumped as I live in the rural area and the other one I rescued. But even if I had of picked them I prefer black dogs and bigger ones. So yes people don't overlook the black dogs they are great!

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