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Seventh Grader Fights Black Dog Syndrome

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When you go to the Kansas Humane Society, the difference between selecting one dog over another could be as simple as an eyebrow lift or wag of the tail.

But for black dogs, many of these expressions blend in and cause them to be skipped over.

The average length of stay for dogs at the Kansas Humane Society is five days. But Darwin, an energetic black lab, has been in the Wichita shelter for twelve days now. The reason could be connected to what's known as Black Dog Syndrome.

When Seventh Grader Madison Bell heard about Black Dog Syndrome, she decided to raise awareness and help those black faces stand out in a crowd.

"While I was doing the volunteering, I saw dogs come in and out, and most of the time black dogs would stay here longer than any other dog," said Bell.

On dogs like yellow labs, you can see the eyebrows move and the expression is noticeable, making it an attractive adoptee. But Darwin has dark fur and dark eyes, causing his facial features to blend in.

"People just walk by them, they decide that they don't want them because they aren't as appealing as a border collie that has colors, the ones with the cute little curl up tails," Bell said. "But they get it wrong and black dogs are amazing, they've got personality just like any other dog."

Madison heard about this issue and decided to take action and is trying to raise awareness of the Black Dog Syndrome. During Woofstock, she launched the Black Dog Club, and has since raised $1,300 for the Kansas Humane Society.

"I'm so incredibly proud of Madison for having thought of the idea of getting more people involved and understanding that there is a problem with some of the animal population that is in shelters," said Bonnie Harrell, Director of Youth Education for the Kansas Humane Society.

To help the black dogs, the shelter gives them bright colored bandanas and collars.

"To stop somebody, just to go oh look at that flash of color," Harrell said.

And they even take their website pictures outside for better lighting.
But it's Madison that's making the biggest impact for these dark colored canines.

"Our goal is to get everybody out of here, you know all the black dogs so that, you know they have homes because they need them," Bell said.

Tomorrow, the Humane Society will be giving away free black animals for Black Friday. All other pets will be 25% off. The awareness drive runs from 11-8.

If you would like to support Madison's mission to raise awareness, you can donate $25 dollars to her Black Dog Club. That money will go to the Humane Society, and you will receive a black dog t-shirt.


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