Those in animal rescue know the term all too well. Black dogs tend to get passed over for adoption compared to light and fair coloured dogs and as a result, end up spending much longer in shelters. Many never get out. Black Dog Syndrome does not breed discriminate. Whether it is because of biases potential adopters may unconsciously hold towards the colour black and its association with evil, or whether it is a simple as black dogs do not tend to photograph well, the fact remains, black dogs suffer discrimination.
The Richmond Animal Protection Society (RAPS) is perhaps the only true no-kill shelter in the Lower Mainland of BC. Dogs, cats, rabbits (and even a rooster) will stay at the shelter until they are adopted. It’s that simple. As such, one only need to peruse the list of dogs up for adoption and their date of entry to find evidence, albeit anecdotal, of Black Dog Syndrome.
George is an 11 year old Lab/Collie cross that was surrendered to RAPS two years ago this March. He is their longest resident and the likelihood of him living out the rest of his life there is pretty high. George really doesn’t have much going for him with regards to qualities potential adopters are looking for. Not only is he a big black dog, but is also a senior dog, who prior to coming to RAPS lived his life as an outdoor dog.
Life is not terrible for George. He does not live in a kennel, but rather has free reign in a big open run. He has a dedicated volunteer that walks him every day, rain or shine. He is fed well and his medical needs are attended to. But he is still not living the life every dog deserves. He does not have a family to call his own and he spends way too many hours behind a fence watching the world go by.
Beedle is a stunning three year old LabDoberman Pincher cross. He has so many amazing qualities; it is beyond comprehension that he has not found his forever home. He is a big and strong dog, but so are the majority of dogs that end up at RAPS. He needs an experienced home, but so do many of the dogs in shelters. He loves people and true to his Lab nature, he is eager to please (arguably the most attractive quality in a dog).
But for close to a year, Beedle waits at the shelter and eagerly greets everyone that walks by his kennel with a desperate plea in his eyes to take him home.
Panzer is a two year old Lab/Pit bull cross, who like Beedle, has so many amazing qualities, it is hard to understand why he has not been adopted. Panzer is great with children of all ages, he is intelligent and eager to please and wants nothing more but to play ball and cuddle. He is a strong dog, but takes direction well. He will often have overnights with one of RAPS’ staff and he is nothing but his best behaved in her home.
And like Beedle, Panzer has been at the shelter for almost a year.
Ashley is a young Shepherd cross who has practically spent her entire life at RAPS. She came in as a puppy, was adopted and returned twice. During this time, staff have worked very hard to rehabilitate Ashley and she has made such remarkable progress that she would no doubt make a wonderful companion. She is an incredibly intelligent and agile dog who has the potential to be an agility superstar, if given the opportunity. She is perhaps one of the easiest dogs to walk at RAPS and staff will often have new volunteer dog handlers walk her.
But, like George, Beedle and Panzer, Ashley sits at the shelter and watches a steady stream of dogs coming and going out.
Perhaps the most blatant example of Black Dog Syndrome can be found in Midnight. A four month Lab cross puppy that has been at RAPS for over two months. Usually, when a puppy is placed in the shelter staff and volunteers can rest assure that he or she will be in their new home within the week. And while Midnight is a very rambunctious puppy who will require an experience and patient handler, preferably with no small children, she is still a gorgeous puppy. It was only a couple a months ago that an equally rambunctious 10 month old Boxer puppy, Boomer spent only a few months at RAPS before he found his forever home, despite the fact that he was being treated for mange.
Will the recently surrendered Jolie suffer the same fate? For not only is she a black dog, she is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier. And if there is one group of dogs that are discriminated against more than black dogs, it is the bully breeds. Sweet Jolie is both.
If you would like to meet any of these phenomenal dogs, contact Richmond Animal Protection Society at
12071 No. 5 Rd
Richmond, BC V7A 4E9