For those of you who have never worked in the animal welfare business, the term “black dog syndrome” or “black cat syndrome” may not be familiar. For the rest of us, we know it well. It’s a term that refers to the lower adoption rate of black or dark-coated animals at shelters. There’s not a lot of hard data regarding the black dog and cat syndrome, but anecdotal evidence suggests this phenomenon is unfortunately real.

People seem to pass up black dogs and instead go for ones with light coats. Some shelter employees speculate that black dogs just don’t have the right look to catch the eye of the public. Others hypothesize that black dogs are hard to see in shelters. The darker the dog, the harder it is to see their eyes — and it has been said that people need to connect with a dog through its eyes. The more black dogs waiting in cages at animal shelters, the more the problem is perpetuated. If a potential adopter sees rows and rows of black dogs, they might think there’s something wrong with these dogs.

Black cats are not immune to this syndrome. Just as we see happening with black dogs, black cats don’t catch the eye as much as an orange tabby cat might. A longtime volunteer at Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP) in Santa Barbara told me that when someone comes into the shelter looking for a kitten to adopt she asks about any preferences as to color, gender, etc. and often they think a bit and respond: “Not black.”

Aside from the black dog or cat syndrome, there are also senior pets, special-needs animals, and other factors that may make a pet seem “less adoptable.” To promote these unusual (or, in some cases, too common) animals, Petfinder has designated September 17-25, 2011, as Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week.

Dog Adoption & Welfare Group (DAWG) is joining to celebrate Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet Week this coming weekend. The theme, “Don’t Hate Me Because I’m ____, Adopt Me Because I Need You,” urges people to adopt those pets who suffer from discrimination. Reasons include breed prejudice, ageism, and special needs. DAWG encourages potential adopters to consider pets they might not normally think of adopting. launched its first Adopt-A-Less-Adoptable-Pet campaign in 2009 after recognizing that approximately 95 percent of shelters and rescue groups have a harder time finding homes for certain pets. “Every day, families walk into shelters or visit and, perhaps unconsciously, bypass some adoptable pets simply because of the way they look, their age, or because they have a condition such as blindness or deafness,” said Betsy Banks Saul, the co-founder of will also be featuring a gallery of “less adoptable” pets on its Website during the week-long event to highlight just how many pets need to be given a chance. DAWG posts its adoptable pets on its website DAWG is a no-kill, nonprofit dog rescue whose goal is to reduce the euthanasia of adoptable dogs in Santa Barbara County by saving dogs at risk from euthanasia at Santa Barbara County Shelters.

In addition to DAWG, there are many other animal shelters in Santa Barbara hoping to adopt their “less adoptable” pets this weekend.


Animal Shelter Assistance Program (ASAP) is a volunteer-based, non-profit organization that takes care of the cats and kittens at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter. ASAP provides humane care for these animals and works to eliminate the practice of euthanizing them for reasons other than serious health or behavior problems. ASAP currently has a few special needs kitties that are looking for loving homes. There is a very sweet FIV+ cat named Gina. They also have several senior kitties who are 10 and up: Sasha, Nadia, Lorena, and Jeremy. Lorena and Jeremy are both adorable and also declawed. They were turned into ASAP recently when their family lost their home. Visit ASAP at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Road. Adoption hours are Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4:45 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit or call (805) 683-3368


Bunnies Urgently Needing Shelter is a volunteer organization that cares for abandoned rabbits. BUNS works to find bunnies permanent homes, and educates the public on caring for companion rabbits. You can call the County Shelter at (805) 681-5285 or call BUNS at (805) 683-0521 and leave a message for someone to call you back. BUNS is located at the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter, 5473 Overpass Road. For more information, visit


RESQCATS has several kitties that are looking for permanent, loving homes. RESQCATS is a nonprofit sanctuary dedicated to the rescue, care and adoption of abandoned cats and kittens in Santa Barbara. Call RESQCATS at (805) 563-9424 for an adoption appointment. All kittens and cats have had a full veterinary exam and been vaccinated, wormed, spayed or neutered, microchipped, and tested for leukemia. For more information, visit

Santa Barbara Animal Shelter

Santa Barbara Animal Shelter is a volunteer, nonprofit organization that promotes adoptions, provides humane care, and acts as advocate for the dogs at the shelter to eliminate euthanasia so that every adoptable dog will have a chance for a loving forever home. To see photos, visit Dog-viewing hours are Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; and Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. All Santa Barbara Animal Shelter dogs are spayed/neutered and have current vaccinations. All adoptions come with FREE group dog-training sessions at the shelter.

Santa Barbara Humane Society

The Santa Barbara Humane Society is a private, nonprofit animal welfare organization serving Santa Barbara County since 1887. They have adoption animals looking for new homes that have been relinquished by their owners. The types of animals looking for adoption include cats and dogs, as well as small animals such as hamsters, domesticated rats and mice, and guinea pigs. For more information, visit the Santa Barbara Humane Society, 5399 Overpass Road, or call (805) 964-4777. Shelter hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. You can also visit


All for Animals, Inc. Announces Publication of New Children’s Book

All for Animals, a nonprofit, humane education organization based in Santa Barbara, is pleased to announce the publication of its first children’s book, Animals Have Feelings, Too! Filled with humor and whimsical illustrations, this enchanting and educational A-Z guide takes young readers on a journey through the alphabet with Sandy, a lovable Lab, who shows them that animals share many of the same feelings that people do. From A is for Affectionate to Z is for Zonked, Animals Have Feelings, Too! helps children to understand and express their feelings and to treat animals with kindness and respect.

On Sunday, October 16, 1-3 p.m. All for Animals will celebrate the publication of Animals Have Feelings, Too! with a Big Book Launch Paw-ty at Dioji K-9 Resort & Athletic Club at 7340 Hollister Avenue (just past Costco) in Goleta. The event includes face painting, treats for kids and canines, animal artwork by seven-year-old Maya Lewandowski, and a special appearance by the “real” Sandy, the lovable Lab featured in the book. For more information about the book or the event, call (805) 682-3160 or visit

All for Animals is dedicated to creating a more compassionate world through humane education. The organization’s Compassion for Critters program has reached thousands of children in Santa Barbara through reading, storytelling, and interaction with well-behaved dogs, bunnies, birds, and the occasional snake! The program builds on children’s natural empathy and curiosity toward animals and helps them create safe and satisfying relationships with animals that will last a lifetime.

Adoptable Pet of the Week


Davey is a 4-year-old, 35-pound Whippet mix male who is calm, obedient, and loving and has figured out exactly what he would like in a forever home. Davey needs a home that includes a stay-at-home family member and could include dogs and cats. He wants nothing more than to lay at your feet calmly and adore you while you work, read, write, paint, etc. Of course, he’s always up for walk or a car ride to the dog park as he’s social with people, dogs, and kids. He is current on all vaccines, neutered, and has no known health issues.

If Davey sounds like the perfect dog for you, call (805) 681-4397 and leave a message for Davey.

Complete a no-obligation SBCAS adoption application and we’ll set up a time to meet Davey. Thank you for saving another life.

Stop by the shelter, 5473 Overpass Road, Santa Barbara to meet Davey. Dog-viewing hours are Mon.-Fri., 9 a.m.-4:45 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. All county shelter dogs are spayed/neutered and have current vaccinations before adoption. All adoptions come with four FREE group dog-training sessions at the shelter.

Do you love dogs, but can’t have a pet? Volunteer at the shelter or make a donation to K-9 PALS to help pay for the medical and prescription foods for the shelter dogs. Volunteer “open house” is held the second Saturday of the month at 9 a.m. For details about volunteering at the County Animal Services, Santa Barbara Animal Shelter, call (805) 681-4397.


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