04/04/2013 03:01 EDT | Updated 06/04/2013 05:12 EDT

Black Dogs Sent To B.C. For Better Chance Of Adoption

black labrador
Black dogs are so unpopular in Saskatchewan, they're being sent to British Columbia for a better chance of being adopted.

Debbi Lehner, manager of the Prince Albert SPCA in Saskatchewan, says black dogs are often passed over for adoption in favour of lighter-coloured animals.

"They just pass right by them," Lehner told CBC News.

"We do get some comments: 'No, I don’t want a black dog.' A lot of times reasons aren’t given, that's just their preference."

Black dog syndrome, or black dog bias, is a phenomenon recognized by some veterinarians and dog shelters.

It's believed some potential owners might find lighter-coloured dogs more attractive. Some might also associate the colour black with misfortune, similar to the common superstition surrounding black cats.

Noted dog psychologist Stanley Coren said black dog bias is rooted in culture and based on our human psychological response to colour.

"Black is associated with the notion of strong, perhaps violent, perhaps evil," he said.

Lori Chortyk, spokesperson for the Vancouver SPCA, says black dog syndrome is less of a problem in B.C., but black animals in general will often stay in shelters longer than potential pets of any other colour.

"We really try to help people look past colour or any other physical trait and really look at what is the personality that is going to match best in your home?" Chortyk said.

So far, four black dogs have been sent from Saskatchewan to the Vancouver Island Dogs Rescue Society. Three more dogs are on their way today and another three are scheduled to travel next week.

The animals are transported by air with the help of Air Angels, a group of 200 Westjet employees who use their employee travel benefits and their days off to escort rescued dogs and cats across the country.

"We are just so delighted that they have taken these dogs, these dogs have been here the longest," said Lehner.

"They have their own individual personalities. Their uniqueness is no different from your little white poodles or your black and tan shepherds."

The SPCA says potential pet owners should base their decisions on the temperament of the animal, rather than on colour and looks.

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