This is Angel who has just found a home through one of the volunteers at TAS-South.

Angel is a recent transfer from Open Arms Pound Rescue. Like many dogs brought up from the States she is black and very friendly and probably would have been euthanized in the States because she is black and there are too many black, unwanted dogs down there and her friendliness wouldn't have saved her.

It's weird there's such a strong anti-black dog sentiment in the States (and other places?) considering how black dogs do so well here in Toronto. Certainly at Toronto Animal Services I haven't noticed black dogs waiting longer to be adopted. And Black Labs, for example, are almost de rigueur in Toronto whereas down south they're being marched off to the gas chambers.

Is this just a Toronto thing?

Here's my theory. Toronto is one of the world's most successful multi-ethnic cities, maybe the world's most successful, and this general acceptance of visual differences in the way people look has translated into the dog world with a greater acceptance, or perhaps rather, a breed/colour blindness (in a good sense) when it comes to adopting dogs. Of course most of us still have our preferences but perhaps those preferences, for many, are just a starting point and someone sorta thinking about adopting a red Doberman might end up going home with a black Great Dane if the personalities jive.

Whatever the reason, Toronto does well for its black dogs and that's a good thing for dogs like Angel.




10 Comments to “Angel - Cocker Spaniel mix”

  1. I am glad that Angel has found a good home. But looking at her picture, I am betting that if her new family wanted to take her for a herding instinct test, they may in fact find that they have a little Border Collie, not a Spaniel mix... ;D

  2. What a sweet face Angel has...glad she has found a home! Our previous dog, Sierra, was adopted from the Quinte HS, where she had languished for months, in spite of being a regular at the front desk and having a splendid outlook. When I asked why no one had adopted her, the answer was because black dogs are the last to be adopted, partly because they often have dark eyes, and so their "expressions" are less visible to people. Think about it...how often do you see a black teddy bear? Same reason. Sierra had the added burden of being "old" at 7 years. We had her till she was 15 and miss her terribly.

  3. Fred says:

    wendy, yes I've heard that before but I actually think the length of hair is a greater determining factor in whether or not I can see a dog's expressions. With longer haired dogs, often the hair hides whatever expressions the dog may be exhibiting underneath (as is the case with my own Smitty when her hair isn't put into a ponytail and out of the way of her eyes) and yet long haired dogs don't have a reputation for being difficult to adopt out.

    You're right, though, about teddy bears. I don't think I've ever seen a black one.

  4. deva says:

    The black dog issue is more than just looks - it's visibility. Black dogs are harder to photograph. On Petfinder some of the picture of adoptable dogs are just dire - behind bars or wire, where you can barely make out the breed. When the dog is black, the features are almost indistinguishable. As a consequence, I think they are overlooked. There are shelters that have multiple dogs per cage - the black ones will blend into the shadows.

    On another note, I agree with Luan - Angel looks BC to me.

  5. Anonymous says:

    my dog was rescued from a pound in the States by a team of amazing people. He was on the kill list for being black and six years old I was told. He is so handsome with his soft black shiny coat and his expressive brown eyes that melt many a heart. Happy to be safe in Toronto the welcoming!

  6. Anonymous says:

    I live in the States... North Carolina, to be precise. I've heard about black dog bias as well. I didn't realize it was a "US thing," though. My family rescued two black lab mix puppies and we absolutely adore them. They are full of exuberance and love and personality. However, because they are black, their sweet faces don't show up so well in photos. I do believe this is the reason for the stigma (i.e., I don't think it's a "racism" thing). We got them literally at the front door of our local Humane Society where a woman was trying unsuccessfully to surrender them. (She had found them wandering in the woods in her neighborhood and had tried for a month to find someone to take them. The HS basically told her to add them to their very long waiting list.) While I hope these doggies would not have eventually ended up at the pound, if they had, i know they wouldn't have lasted long. I wish more people would give black dogs a chance. They are wonderful! (Love your blog, by the way!)

  7. deva says:

    I just looked at Captain, Racer and Tyler listed on the Open Arms urgent list. I hope they may be able to come to TAS. It's tragic such adoptable animals are facing almost certain death in their current circumstances, and all are young, healthy dogs.

  8. Fred says:

    deva, looking at urgent listings from high kill shelters will definitely drive you to drink.

  9. Black dogs, like black cats, suffer because of an old association with evil and the devil. This association is strong where certain types of Christianity were strong, the US, Germany, parts of eastern Europe. Black dogs were thought to be easy for malignant spirits to possess -- poltergeists, for example. There is a reminder of this in the description of severe depression as 'the black dog' in many parts of the US.

    As the proud custodian of two black Eastern European dogs, I can tell you there are times when I think they *are* possessed -- mostly by a fanatical devotion to the food dish...

  10. Anonymous says:

    What a cute guy! The black dog thing is riDOGulous! I have a black dog. Never knew there was any stigma attached to this colour. I have heard, however, that in Asia, there is a reluctance to adopt them as well. I only have one question. Do dogs avoid black dogs? We all know the answer.
    ...Until we behave the way animals do and are colour-blind, we humans are less evolved.

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A request

The reason for this blog is to help get specific dogs adopted from TAS but equally important is to try to normalize the idea of shelter dogs being just as good and just as desirable as any other dogs including those which are regularly merchandised by backyard breeders, puppy millers and those few remaining pet store owners who still feel a need to sell live animals. The single greatest stigma shelter animals still face is the belief that shelter animals are substandard animals. Anyone who has had enough experience with shelter animals knows this is untrue but the general public hasn't had the same experiences you've had. They see a nice dog photo in a glossy magazine and too many of them would never think of associating that dog with a dog from a shelter. After all, no one abandons perfectly good dogs, right? Unfortunately, as we all know, perfectly good dogs are abandoned all the time.

The public still too often associates shelter dogs with images of beat up, sick, dirty, severely traumatized animals and while we definitely sometimes see victims such as these, they are certainly not the majority and, regardless, even the most abused animals can very often be saved and made whole again.

Pound Dogs sometimes discusses the sad histories some of the dogs have suffered. For the most part, though, it tries to present the dogs not as victims but as great potential family members. The goal is to raise the profiles of animals in adoption centers so that a potential pet owner sees them as the best choice, not just as the charity choice.

So, here's the favour I'm asking. Whenever you see a dog picture on these pages you think is decent enough, I'd like you to consider sharing it on Facebook or any other social media sites you're using (I know many of you do this already and thank you for that). And when you share it, please mention that the dog in the photo is a shelter dog like so many other shelter dogs waiting for a home. If we can get even five percent of the pet buying public to see shelter dogs differently, to see how beautiful they are and how wonderful they are, and to consider shelter dogs as their first choice for a new family member, we can end the suffering of homeless pets in this country.
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