The importance of ensuring black animals are adopted from shelters

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Every year, the Marshall Animal Shelter works hard to try and make sure every cat and dog is adopted out. However, the result is always the same — black cats and dogs are the last ones to get forever homes.

Image by Daga Roszkowska from Pixabay

“They’re always the last,” Danita Phillips, the shelter manager, said. “If you have a pen, like with a black, a white or a brown — the black will always be the last to go.”

She then explained why that reason may be.

“I think it’s because the lighter colors are more eye appealing,” Phillips said. “They catch your eye more than a black one would — they kind of blend in — and some people want eye catching animals to show off.”

She stated because of this the shelter always has to reduce adoption fees.

“Or most times — like especially black cats — we usually have to just waive all fees just to get them adopted,” Phillips noted.

If none of the black cats or dogs in the Marshall Animal Shelter’s area are adopted, they are sent to other rescues.

“We work with several different rescues and other shelters that transfer animals too,” Phillips said.

She added that those facilities experience the same thing.

According to The Marshall Democrat-News’ 2012 article, “Unnoticed: black dog adoptions seem to lag behind,” there was a widespread problem of black dogs struggling to be adopted. Eventually, the issue evolved into a topic known as “Black Dog Syndrome” and it caused several rescue organizations to form nationwide — to ensure black dogs would find forever homes.

The article stated some of the reasons why black dogs were not the first ideal pet choice was due to superstition — same for black cats, as Phillips points out.

“On the black cats, it is very superstitious why people won’t adopt cats,” she said. “They think they’re evil.”

Phillips stated due to the bad wrap black cats get or because of superstition, the Marshall Animal Shelter does not adopt them out during Halloween.

“We specifically will not adopt-out black cats during Halloween,” she explained. “Just because there’s … been too much talk of … sacrificial activities … historically.”

Phillips indicated some people would adopt black cats and then sacrifice them for rituals.

Therefore, holidays like Christmas are a better time to try and adopt black cats out instead.

When it comes to adopting out black cats and dogs, Phillips noted the Marshall Animal Shelter will share pictures of the black dogs on social media. The shelter adds little biographies prior to sharing them.

However, for the black cats there is a different process.

“Usually, our cats, we send them up to the pet condos at the Liberty, Mo., PetSmart,” Phillips said. “Then they just stay up there until they’re adopted.”

Additionally, she stated the black cats and dogs in need of adoption will sometimes be put on Petfinder. But in contrast to black dogs, black cats are not as likely to travel or go to another state than Missouri. Phillips also said because of the relationship the Marshall Animal Shelter has with the PetSmart in the city of Liberty, she has not had time to think of posting black cats on social media.

“Cats are least likely to be transported only because I haven’t … looked into it because we do have such a big outlet with sending them to PetSmart with the pet condos,” Phillips added. “We haven’t really needed to look outside of our area for rescues or anything for cats.”

Overall, this year she stated the shelter has been very fortunate, especially given the current pandemic.

“With COVID, we haven’t been able to take dogs to adoption events up in Kansas City, Mo., like we used to,” Phillips explained. “That’s where 90 percent of our adoptions come from — is going up to PetSmart in Tiffany Springs or Liberty. … So we’ve been sending the majority of our dogs to rescues and we’ve had a lot of good luck with that.”

She noted the Marshall Animal Shelter has sent many dogs to states like Michigan, Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, Kansas, Illinois and Iowa.

While Phillips explained the Marshall Animal Shelter hopes to get black cats and dogs out as soon as possible for adoption, the most important thing is that each one goes to a good home.

“More the focus is on just going to good families instead of a timeframe,” she said. “We like to get them out as quickly as possible, but if it means sending to them a less than responsible home, then we’ll just hang on to them.”

Phillips expressed the shelter takes pride in doing this, especially when it comes to pit bulls.

“We’re very, very particular about who gets our pit bulls, our shepherds, our huskies — high driven breeds like that or the protector breeds,” she explained. “We won’t adopt, to just anybody. It’s for the safety of the animal.”

Local organizations in the area, Phillips added, have also tried to help promote the adoption of black cats and dogs while ensuring their safety.

“Yeah, actually all of the other rescues and shelters that I kind of follow on Facebook — or I’ve worked personally with — they all have adoption specials on the black ones and they pay a little bit more attention to where they go and the type of home they go into,” she said.

Contact Danielle Linton-Hatfield at

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  • I'm so thankful for my two black boradors that escaped the rescue van! They're so interesting and I love our "pack."

    -- Posted by jflivestockxchange on Thu, Jan 28, 2021, at 12:42 PM
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