Halfway to Home: The Myth of Black Cats, Dogs and Bully Breeds

Did you know that mosquitoes are attracted to the color blue twice as much as to any other color? Bees can’t see the color red, and black cats and dogs are really vicious, mean animals. Wait… something about that last sentence just doesn’t seem right… let’s correct this, shall we? Black cats and dogs are beautiful, loyal creatures that often get a bad rap because of the color of their fur. If you add in the stereotype of the “bully breed” dog, you’ll find a HUGE population of animals that are totally misrepresented and have been given a bad rap for no good reason.

One of the goals of our “Halfway to Home” series is to open people’s eyes to the large populations of cats and dogs who live in shelters, but absolutely deserve to find a forever home of their own.

According to KFCI, statistics have shown that black cats, distant relatives of the Black Panther (how cool is that?), have the lowest adoption rate and the highest euthanasia rate in comparison to more brightly colored cats. Dogs that are considered a “bully breeds”, which include pit bulls, bulldogs and boxers (amongst others), are often given the reputation of being “dangerously aggressive”, but ANY dog might attack if he or she is neglected, abused or trained to be aggressive. As stated by Animal Planet, if cared for properly, a “bully breed” dog can be very gentle, social and loyal.

According to Consumer Affairs, black dogs are so much less likely to be adopted than lightly-colored dogs that they actually have a name for it: “Black Dog Syndrome”. According to Petfinder.com, the average pet remains with a shelter group or on an adoption website for approximately twelve and a half weeks, but for black cats and dogs, it can take four times longer. They are also (sadly) usually the first to be euthanized.

So, why don’t we take a couple of minutes here and debunk some of these myths to help some amazingly wonderful animals find their forever homes?

Black Cats and Dogs

Let’s start with the black cat. Black cats are only half as likely to get adopted and find a happy and safe forever home as cats of other colors. One reason (believe it or not) is that people associate black cats with bad luck and witchcraft. This is just a myth! I read a quote that sums this up perfectly: “a black cat crossing your path simply means the cat is going somewhere!” As stated by the Animal Foundation, if you go back in time to ancient Egypt, black cats were not only worshipped, but considered good luck!

The Black Dog Rescue Project’s website explained that there are theories as to why black dogs are so often left behind in shelters, with beliefs stemming from them not photographing or showing up in shelters as well as lightly-colored dogs. Another theory is that Hollywood oh-so-often depicts black dogs as dangerous, and the color black in general representing something villainous. But we know better, right? The color of a dog’s or cat’s coat has NOTHING to do with their temperament or personality! Everybody has heard of the (untrue) stereotype that blondes are not intelligent. Well, as a blonde myself, I have to tell you: it stinks to be part of an untrue stereotype! The same goes for our beautiful, black-coated, four-legged friends!

 

Bully Breeds

Pit bulls and other “bully” breeds are typically quick, strong, athletic dogs. Like all other dogs, they will absolutely find trouble if they are bored, but remember that dog-on-dog aggression is NOT a breed-specific behavior. Dogs are just like people; they each have a different level of tolerance to others, and it’s an owner’s responsibility to figure out what that level is and act accordingly. Some “bully breeds,” like the Staffordshire bull terrier, have such a great reputation that they are often called “nanny dogs,” because of their sweet and nurturing behaviors around children. It’s important to teach any dog how to treat children in a home, and also equally important to teach children how to treat a dog. A “bully breed’s” natural stout and strong build can make them prone to accidentally knocking over or inadvertently injuring a child.

It’s also important to remember that pit bull mixes consistently rate higher than many other popular dog breeds (like the golden retriever or collie) on temperament-tests conducted by the American Temperament Test Society, Inc.

If you’ve been lucky enough to meet any of our youth division MobSTIRS, then you know that they are all wise beyond their years. So wise, in fact, that they’ve already got all of these black cat and “bully breed” myths BUSTED!

“I don't know why some people are scared to adopt black cats or dogs, because my cat, Atlanta, is the most loveable animal ever. She's so funny and playful, and she loves football and has her own ball that she loves me to roll along the floor. She's really protective of me. YES, my cat is actually protective of me, so anyone who thinks black animals aren't awesome, please rethink this, because they are so AWESOME” —Mason


“I own a French bulldog and I used to have an English bulldog… they are such amazing dogs. They are very loving and caring! My aunt owns a pit bull mix and her name is Mary Catherine. She is so kind and energetic! She loves children and running around! Mary Catherine is far from intimidating and would not even hurt a fly. Dogs are not born mean; they become this way when people are cruel to them or when they are unloved. With lots of love and care, any dog can be a great dog, but that also works the other way around. With no love or care, any dog can become a vicious or mean dog. I volunteer weekly at a cat shelter and they have tons of black cats there because, sadly, a lot of people don't want to adopt them. As far as I can tell, all of the cats are kind and loving, despite their fur color. Just because a cat has black hair, does not mean that he or she is any less loving or lucky than a tabby or ginger cat.” —Rylyn

“My uncle had a pit-bull-lab-mix named Vinnie. He was the sweetest dog I'd ever met; though not biological, he was the brother of my dog. He drooled a lot and loved to play. When I went to a wedding and saw my uncle, he said Vinnie had died, which was really heartbreaking. What I know about bully breeds is that breed bans are bad, and that bully breeds are the most misunderstood and mistreated animals. But they all can recover and be amazing family pets.” —Sarah

"We adopted Tux, our cat, almost 14 years ago from a shelter. He has been a best friend to me and my younger brother, Dillon, ever since. He's so lovable and affectionate. He sleeps with us all the time. Tux even thinks he's a person. He will sit with us at the dinner table on a chair while we eat. He greets us at the door everyday when we come home and rolls over for a tummy rub. My mom said that we will always adopt black animals first because they are always passed up. I really can't understand why. We have the best cat and friend in Tux. We love him dearly." —Kyle

 

The ISF Creatures division wants to send a HUGE THANK YOU to everybody who has participated in #FosterFriday and #SeniorSunday. If you are the foster parent to an amazing creature, please share them with us on social media on Fridays with the hashtags #FosterFriday and #ISF. If you're the mom or dad to a fabulous senior dog or cat, celebrate them with us on Sundays with the hashtags #SeniorSunday and #ISF, and tell us about all the things that make them amazingly, fabulously them!

We’ll be back here next month, with the third installment of our “Halfway to Home” series, so stay tuned!

 

​Sources:

http://kindnessforcats.rescuegroups.org/info/display?PageID=7189

http://www.animalplanet.com/pets/about-bully-breeds/

http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news/shelters-fight-black-dog-syndrome-051115.html

http://animalfoundation.com/black-cats-the-good-the-bad-and-the-misunderstood

http://www.blackdogrescueproject.com/black-dog-syndrome.html

http://atts.org/

Photos courtesy of Kyle and Mason

 

-Amanda

Please see ISF’s Terms of Use.