Some shelter pets are at a bigger disadvantage than others. Maybe they’re classified as “too old”, or they’re odd, or, they’re too large. None of these factors benefit dogs waiting for adoption.
But for shelter dogs, one of the biggest disadvantages is to be saddled with the term “Black Dog Syndrome,” or simply be… a big, black dog.
I met the sweetest one this past weekend. I attended the grand opening celebration for PetSmart’s newest store in L.A., where we’ll soon be opening a PetSmart Charities’ Enhanced Adoption Center. We gave attendees a peek at the new center, and one of our amazing in-store Adoption Partners, L.A. County Animal Control had about 30 pets available for adoption that day.
L.A. shelters, like many other population-dense city shelters, have an abundance of purebred dogs. But one of the pets in our center that day was this “Black Dog Syndrome” mutt; he was older, quite large and certainly black as well. He just tugged at my heartstrings. He came to L.A. County Animal Control as an owner surrender just a few days prior. Since he was a big, older guy, shelter staff thought he might have a better chance of getting adopted due to more exposure at the Enhanced Adoption Center.
Since he was so big, he was placed in a lower kennel. And though that didn’t give him the most high-profile spot, he still wagged his tail every time someone walked by.
But all his visitors kept on walking…until the Olivar family arrived.
The Olivar family’s dog had passed away just a few months earlier. Their son was just so excited to welcome another pet into their lives. He walked right up to this big, black dog and there was an immediate connection.
The Olivar boy was smiling the whole time. He met the dog in the playroom, so I was able to watch them from the glass window. The dog was excited to be walked on his leash and seemed to bond immediately with both Mr. Olivar and his son and the official adoption soon followed.
The Olivar family’s story was one of my favorite “happy endings” that I’ve witnessed in all my years in animal welfare. Statistically, this dog didn’t have much of a chance. If he had been in a traditional shelter, he may not have found a home. To see him walk out of the PetSmart Charities Enhanced Adoption Center with such a loving family was a real tear-jerker.
The L.A. Enhanced Adoption Center location will be up and running full-time soon, and I can’t wait to hear more stories like this one.