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Black Pet Syndrome – Real but Unfair

by Ryan Jo Summers

Black Pet Syndrome is a real phenomenon. It’s what makes black cats and dogs the most unlikely to be adopted and the most likely to be euthanized.  But what created this phenomenon?

There’s the idea that black animals don’t photograph well, that it’s hard to capture their expression. Some feel the black coated dogs don’t do well in public. Others think light-colored coats are more eye-catching. There is also the argument that black animals are hard to see at night.  And popular media and culture often show black animals as villains or aggressive.

Because of those thoughts, black haired pets are viewed as unlucky. Lastly, some dogs more prone to aggression might be black, including Chows, Rottweilers, Dobermans and pit bulls. There’s also the plethora of scary Halloween images showcasing black cats as evil, linking them to witches. To counter these arguments, I offer some heroic black cats and dogs that pushed past their coat-color stigma.

  1. Schnautzie, a striking black cat, saved her Montana home and family from blowing up when a gas pipe broke in October 2007. She was only six months old.

  2. Tara is a dark tabby who saved her four-year-old master by charging out and thwarting an attack by the neighbor dog. The video has gone viral.

  3. Charley, a black cat, saved his owner when she collapsed from hypoglycemia by waking her sleeping husband.

  4. Simon, a tuxedo cat, was a 1947 war hero for his duties aboard the HMS Amethyst.

  5. Buddy, a black-and-tan German shepherd, saved his owner when the man’s workshop caught fire by finding an Alaskan State Trooper and leading him back.

  6. Max, another German shepherd, woke his 80-year-old owner when the wall heater malfunctioned and carbon monoxide levels rose dangerously high.

  7. Jade,  another German shepherd, sniffed out a newborn baby while on a walk with her owner. After being taken to the hospital, the baby was christened Baby Jade.

  8. Major, a black pit bull, pounded on the keypad of a phone and reached 9-1-1 when his owner suffered a seizure.

  9. Khan a Doberman, tossed a toddler out of the way of a poisonous snake in 2007.

  10. During WW 2, coal-black Schipperke dogs carried messages for the Belgian Resistance.

  11. Katrina, a Black Lab, saved a drowning man from Hurricane Katrina floodwaters.

  12. Eva, a Rottweiler, pulled her paraplegic owner from their burning truck.

  13. Nyla, a black-and-tan mixed breed, barked and guided her owner out of their burning house.

  14. Nellie, a Black Lab, saved her deaf owner from home intruders.

The list could go on and on, but I think you probably get the point: When it comes to pets, black is not only beautiful. It is often also heroic.

Ryan Jo Summers is a local writer. More can be found about her work at

photo credit: “The Sun Shines Down On Me” via photopin (license)



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