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Black Cats Have Bad Luck Finding Homes, Fairfax Shelter Workers Say

Black cats and dark-colored animals in general are often overlooked at shelters, but the Fairfax County Animal Shelter aims to change that with this weekend's adoption event.

Black Cats Have Bad Luck Finding Homes, Fairfax Shelter Workers Say
by  Jamie M. Rogers

Her green eyes, soft coat and cool temperament should be more than enough to get Skippie the cat adopted from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, a facility known for its high adoption success rate.  Yet, Skippie remains homeless, very likely for one reason—she's black. 

Homeless-animal advocates in the United States have long said black cats are often overlooked at shelters.  In fact, darker animals in general are often the last to find good homes. 

"She's (Skippie) been here since April; she may be the longest-term cat here," said Kristin Auerbach, director of communications and outreach for the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.

It doesn't help that Skippie is a little shy; a cat that doesn't like to come out of its kitty condo can be more difficult to adopt out, Auerbach said. 

It is not clear why black cats are often the least adopted, but superstition probably has a lot to do with it.  Many people believe black cats bring bad luck. 

There was a time when the opposite was believed about black cats, Auerbach said. Sailors used to take a black cat on board because it was thought the cats would bring good luck to their voyage. 

Whatever the reasons for the misfortunes, the staff at the animal shelter have planned some interesting events this fall to give black cats, dogs and other animals a head start in the hunt for a home. 

All this month is "Meow-loween" at the shelter. That means all adopted orange and/or black cats come with a special gift bag for the new owners.  "Mostly black" and "mostly orange" cats also qualify for the gift bags. 

Orange shelter cats typically don't have trouble finding homes, but they are part of the promotion because it's Halloween.
 
As of Thursday afternoon, the shelter had nine black, six orange and five black-and-orange colored cats for adoption. 

Today through Sunday the shelter is waiving the adoption fees on all animals 3 years old or older as part of the Family Halloween Adopt-a-Thon. There will also be games and prizes, shelter trick-or-treating and a haunted cat-condo decorating contest at the event. 

The shelter plans to continuing adopting out black cats all next week and even on Halloween, bucking another belief that black cats shouldn't be placed on or near the holiday.  

If adopted around Halloween, many believe black cats will be harmed as part of some malicious Halloween-related ceremony, Auerbach said. 

But the Fairfax shelter has no problems with adopting out an animal of any color at any time, because of the facility's vigorous owner-vetting process, she added.

Personal information is required to adopt an animal and it is unlikely someone is going to give shelter staff that type information if they wish to do an animal harm, she said.
 
Additionally, the shelter does post-adoption follow ups with new owners. 

In November, the shelter is planning a special Black Friday event. There will be adoption specials on all black or mostly-black animals. The newly-renovated shelter is located at 4500 West Ox Rd. in Fairfax. 

Why do you think black and darker cats and other animals are overlooked at shelters? Tells us in the comments.

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