Ideas to get black pets adopted

Posted by Jennifer on December 29th, 2010

We were inspired by some articles on Purina’s Petcentric website (How Humane Societies and Animal Shelters Are Helping Black Dogs and Cats Get Adopted and Black Cats and Dogs Need Love Too) to post some great ideas we’ve heard shelters and rescues have used to get their black pets adopted.

There are no hard scientific studies as to why black cats and dogs are less likely to be adopted, but there are a lot of good theories. This is often called Black Dog Syndrome, though it applies equally to cats.

#1 Get black pets seen

- Put them in the brightest kennels in your facility.
- Put them in kennels that are at eye-level, if appropriate.
- Use light colored blankets or beds in their kennel.
- Use extra bright lighting and a pale backgrounds in their photos & videos.
- Make their main adoption photo a close up of their face, to show their expression and eyes.
- Have them wear a bright color collar, bandanna, t-shirt or sweater.
- Use bright color nail caps on both cats AND dogs! Try pink for girls, blue for boys.

#2 Special events and incentives

Provide extra training to black dogs. You can mention their new skills in their adoption listings, and make them more adoptable. And/or offer several free training sessions after the adoption.

Host a “Black Goes with Everything” party with adoptable black cats and dogs as special guests. You can do this as a fundraiser and an adoption event. Ask everyone to wear black – except the pets of course, they should be in bright colors!

Have an “all black” fashion show and fundraiser at a local retailer or restaurant. Have black pets present as special guests.

Conduct adoption events with reduced adoption fees. Ask a sponsor to provide food, beds, etc., for any black pet adopted.

#3 Spread the word

Your volunteers, adopters and supporters can help spread the word that black pets are great, but are much less likely to be adopted – kind people like to help the underdog! When their family, friends or co-workers mention plans to adopt a dog or cat, they can encourage them to choose a black pet, and tell them why.

Consider a foster program for black dogs or cats. A fostered pet has the opportunity to meet the foster’s friends and neighbors, and even strangers, and display their personality.

Ask your local paper to feature black pets in a story that explains how they are overlooked and face a high euthanasia rate. Include photos of black cats and dogs available at the shelter as well as statistics on black pets at the shelter if available. Ask a professional photographer or anyone who takes good photos to take fabulous photos of your black pets for this feature. Turn these photos into a slideshow for your website and the online edition of the newspaper.

Do you have other great ideas that helped black pets get adopted?
Email them to and she’ll add them here for other shelters and rescues to see and use!

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