Myrtle Beach shelter finds it more difficult to find homes for black dogs

akelley@thesunnews.comApril 2, 2014 

— Fur color may play a role in finding shelter dogs homes along the Grand Strand, according to a shelter director who said it’s more difficult for the organization to get black dogs adopted.

“We don’t know what it is with black dogs,” said Sandy Brown, director of the Grand Strand Humane Society. “They’re extremely hard to get adopted, and especially older dogs.”

Brown said she’s seen the issue along the Grand Strand, but can’t be sure it’s a problem nationwide.

Five black dogs at the Grand Strand Humane Society are awaiting transport to a shelter in Maryland where Brown hopes they’ll have better luck finding permanent homes.

“We can get them to rescues in other areas and they don’t have the problem we do,” she said. But she said those opportunities are rare.

One of the dogs is an all black puppy. Another is a black and brown dog named Georgia who was adopted but returned by the owner.

The three remaining dogs are part of a litter of seven puppies, four of which will remain at the Grand Strand Humane Society.

“We don’t know whether that’s human instinct or people don’t see them as much,” she said. “It’s crazy because they’re the same. And some of them are even more beautiful than other colors, but they will get looked over all the time.”

Brown said the issue, which has been called “Black Dog Syndrome,” translates to cats too, which can be considered bad luck.

The most recent study on adoption rates by fur color conducted by PetHealth Inc., a pet insurance company, in 2011 disputes Black Dog Syndrome and says that statistics from 1,577 animal welfare organizations in the U.S. and Canada showed black dogs were adopted 1.3 days before red dogs and 0.6 days before white dogs. The white, brown and tan dogs were euthanized 1.7 days before black dogs, the study said.

The same organization’s study with 700 animal welfare organizations in 2007, showed the opposite with brown, red and white dogs adopted on average two days sooner than the black ones.

Brown said she doesn’t have statistics of euthanasia by fur color at the shelter because the Grand Strand Humane Society does not kill pets to make space. Neither does the Saint Frances Animal Care Center in Georgetown.

Other than finding shelters elsewhere that can take the dogs, Brown said she’s not aware of many other options.

Sometimes she said the shelter offers discounted rates specific to age and fur color. That’s a tactic used by other shelters including Saint Frances and the Humane Society of North Myrtle Beach which has discounted black cats on Friday the 13th.

“Other than that there isn’t really anything we can do except hope the person comes in that falls in love with them and takes them home,” she said. “I think it’s a struggle for every shelter.”

Contact AMANDA KELLEY at 626-0381, or follow her at Twitter.com/TSN_akelley.

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