When we think about black cats, images of Halloween, witches, and bad luck tend to be the first things that come to mind. Black dogs are no different, with common associations often being werewolves, bad omens, or even warnings of death. In reality, we obviously know that black animals are just as cute and cuddly as their colorful counterparts, but believe it or not, studies show that they have the hardest time getting adopted. It’s an issue that black animals have dealt with for hundreds of years, thanks to their associations with witchcraft and devil worship. Sounds a little silly, right? Well, let’s look at some statistics.

According to Dr. Emily Weiss, of the ASPCA:

…although euthanasia numbers for black animals are at or near the top (both black and white dogs were near 19 percent; black cats were at 30 percent, with gray cats and white cats coming in just under that, at 28 percent and 26 percent, respectively), their total adoption numbers were also the highest of any color. Thirty-two percent of canine adoptions in 2013 were black dogs, with brown dogs coming in second at 22 percent. In addition, more brown dogs were euthanized than black dogs (25 percent versus 21 percent). Black cats were in a similar situation, with 31 percent of 2013 feline adoptions being black cats, and gray cats coming in next, at 20 percent.

This might be a little confusing at first, because while these numbers say that black animals have the highest euthanasia rates, they also have some of the highest numbers in getting adopted. That’s because shelters have such a high intake of them.

Another issue that keeps black animals from getting adopted is that they tend to do a good job of literally blending in. Since most shelters can’t afford to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive cameras or photographers, it’s often difficult to pick up on the features of dogs and cats with black fur, which causes them to stand out less on websites or online posts as opposed to lighter, “patterned” pets.

But that raises the question: how can we help?

It goes without saying that adopting black dogs and cats makes a huge difference! Not only are you rescuing an animal, but you’re saving them from a longer stay in the shelter than most; or worse. If you don’t have room to add a few more paws to the family, there are still ways you can help, too! If you have photography or editing skills, consider volunteering them at a shelter. A lot of organizations also have sponsorship programs where you can choose a black cat or dog to donate a little extra love and supplies to—we often do events like this at Two Bostons!

Remember: all pets deserve loving homes. Don’t let a blurry photo or silly superstition make you pass by your new best friend!