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Off Leash: Bright is the New Black

Black Beauty Bandana Project aims to get attention for overlooked dogs

The phenomenon is so familiar to shelter staffers that it has a name: “black dog syndrome.” That inky Lab mix in kennel 4B waits for weeks or months while his next-door kennel neighbors, a red hound and a husky mix, find homes relatively quickly.

Black dogs seem to have the deck stacked against them: They’re common in many shelters, their coats make them more difficult to photograph well, some people find their appearance frightening, and many adopters seem to prefer more colorful canines.

Marti Houge, founder of One Starfish Rehoming Connections in Columbus, Wisc.—a group that assists potential adopters in connecting with rescue groups and adopts out a small number of dogs—didn’t learn about the problem until she got involved in rescue work. “I’ve always had a liking for black dogs, and I assumed that everyone else thought they were especially beautiful,” she says.

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