Loup Garou Animal Rescue has a very distinct mission: to rescue & foster & find loving homes for cats & dogs with black coats. At most U.S. animal shelters, black dogs and cats are the last to be adopted and the first to be euthanized; Loup Garou is dedicated to reversing that trend. They also assist with the rescue of lost pets in the San Francisco area of any coat color.
Jennifer Mieuli Jameson is the founder of Loup Garou. While working with other rescue groups she learned about Black Dog Syndrome, a phenomenon that shelters and rescue groups across the country grapple with. Many people have no idea about this problem, but it is true that animals with dark coats are often passed over for adoption in favor of lighter-colored ones. Larger dark-colored mixed-breed dogs are often the ones passed over but this phenomenon extends to all sizes and to black cats as well. They take longer to be adopted and are often the first to be put down in shelters across the country.
Why does this happen? There are many theories and the list of causes is long. Black is the genetically dominant for many popular breeds so there are more of them in the shelters. Black dogs are more difficult to photograph well, often the first way a potential adopter makes an emotional connection. Black dog’s faces can be harder to read than more colorful dogs. Black dogs are considered plain or even boring. Culturally, black dogs are often portrayed as vicious or aggressive in movies and television (the evil Grim omen in Harry Potter is one recent example).
Black dogs have also been portrayed in literature as threatening, skulking around in the shadows. “The Black Dog” is a common term used to describe depression. These images, impressions & memories pop up when picking out a companion animal. Potential adopters at a shelter will walk right by the kennels that house dark-colored animals, no matter how friendly or tail-waggy the dog may be.
Many shelters don’t know how to market or showcase black dogs. In her rescue work Jennifer learned to advocate for the black dogs, pointing out that the color of the dog’s coat had no bearing on their personality. She would suggest adopting two dogs, one of each hue, and learned all sorts of ways to portray dark dogs in a bright light. Eventually she decided to take these special skills to another level and, with the help of a group of friends, founded Loup Garou.
They started in 2010 as a small foster-home based group of animal lovers, some with no rescue experience but willing hearts. As of this writing, 21 dogs and 8 cats (don’t hate…cats need love, too!) have been placed with loving families. Loup Garou’s priority is to take animals from San Francisco Animal Care & Control, but animals are also pulled from the Bakersfield, Merced, and San Jose shelters. It is rare that their volunteers go to a shelter in search of animals because practically every day a concerned shelter employee calls asking if there is room for just one more.
Next time you are in search of a new animal friend, please look closely at the faces of the darker dogs. Those faces hold as much love and loyalty as any other. Adopt a black dog (or cat!) and you help them find the love they deserve.