Archive for October 14th, 2009

Colorblind Adoptions

October 14, 2009

Whenever I meet with a patient (dog or cat) and client (their human) for the first time I always ask some version of, “How long have you two known each other?”  I love watching my client’s face light up as they recall that first moment of kitten or puppy love.  I delight in hearing the wonderful and amazing tales of how their lives managed to cross paths.   If my patient happens to be a black cat, I always provide kudos to my client for having performed an extraordinarily good deed.  You see, black kitties are notoriously more difficult to find homes for than are cats of other colors.  Perhaps this is related to black cat Halloweenish superstitions.  What I hadn’t realized, until now, is that black dogs are also more difficult to place than their colorful canine counterparts.

Dr. Kay with her dog Lexie who was solid black until 12 years of age

According to an October 9th NBC News article by Emily Friedman, just as is the case for black cats, large black dogs tend to be the last ones to be adopted from shelters.  There are a few theories as to why. Many shelters offer no natural lighting, making it hard for the face of a black dog to stand out- it is more difficult to distinguish their facial features than it would be in lighter colored dogs or those with contrasting markings.  Kim Saunders, the head of shelter outreach for the Web site believes that black dogs are overlooked because they don’t photograph as well as lighter colored animals.  When people are shopping for the next love of their lives, they are looking for a face that stands out with special appeal.  Some theorize that it is human nature to be drawn to things with more vibrant color or riveting hair coat patterns.  Placing solid colored black cats and large black dogs can be so difficult that some shelters run promotions and try to create more color and appeal- necks adorned with colorful scarves, discounted adoption fees, and even superhero names. When you are ready to begin searching for the next canine or feline love of your life, I encourage you to pay special attention to those that are solid black in color. They’re in need of a special advantage when it comes to landing in the type of loving, caring home that every dog and cat deserves.

Wishing you and your four-legged family members good health,

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine 

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller. 

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