Wichita Black Friday may be about shopping and door-buster deals. For a 12-year-old Humane Society volunteer in Wichita, the day will be about dogs.
Madison Bell recently launched the Black Dog Club at her middle school in an effort to raise awareness about a bias against black animals that often keeps them in shelters longer than their lighter-colored counterparts.
“Black dogs are overlooked because they’re not unique enough. You can’t see their faces very well,” Madison said. “When I learned about it, I was shocked. I wanted to do something to help.”
So for nine hours today, Bell will help the Humane Society host the Black Dog Adoption Drive, where the society will waive adoption fees for all black animals. Fees for other animals will be discounted 25 percent.
Pet adoption advocates say the bias is real. Sometimes called “Black Dog Syndrome,” the effect is noticeable at the Wichita shelter and elsewhere, where black animals often wait longer for homes because their facial expressions are harder to see and photograph.
Few, if any, statistics back up the idea that black animals are tougher to adopt, but Humane Society workers say the animals carry all sorts of false stigmas, among them the idea that black dogs are inherently mean or aggressive and that black cats represent bad luck.
“They don’t grab your eye as quickly as brighter-colored animals,” said Jennifer Campbell, spokeswoman for the Kansas Humane Society.
Since launching her club with a booth at Woofstock, a Humane Society fundraising event, Madison has raised about $1,300 for the group. The money helps pay for veterinary services and other needs for shelter animals. The effort is her Girl Scout Silver Award project.
“I just hope we save a whole lot of animals’ lives,” she said.