Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for October 30, 2006

From AOL News...

Ban on Black Cat Adoptions Questioned


BOISE, Idaho (Oct. 28) - A black cat won't cross your path this Halloween, not if a northern Idaho animal shelter can help it. Like many shelters around the country, the Kootenai Humane Society in Coeur d'Alene is prohibiting black cat adoptions from now to Nov. 2, fearing the animals could be mistreated in Halloween pranks - or worse, sacrificed in some satanic ritual.

The shelter's executive director, Phil Morgan, said that while the risk may be remote, the policy will remain just in case.

"It's kind of an urban legend. But in the humane industry it's pretty typical that shelters don't do adoptions of black cats or white bunnies because of the whole satanic sacrificial thing," Morgan said. "If we prevent one animal from getting hurt, then it serves its purpose."

Some animal experts, however, say the practice does more to hurt animals than protect them.

"Black cats already suffer a stigma because of their color," said Gail Buchwald, vice president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals shelter in New York City. "Why penalize them any more by limiting the times when they can be adopted?"

Idaho Humane Society spokeswoman Dee Fugit said that while the temporary adoption bans used to be more common, several years of working in Idaho has proven to her there's no need for such measures.

"If somebody comes in here and they're strange enough that we'd question why they're adopting a black cat on Halloween, then we're probably not going to adopt any animal to them," Fugit said from her Boise office. "It doesn't seem to be a justifiable reason for not adopting black cats. We are absolutely inundated with cats that need homes right now."

Black cats tend to be adopted less often than other felines, Buchwald said.

A study published in the Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science in 2002 comparing coat color in shelter animals found that black or dark brown cats were much less likely to be adopted than white, gray or mixed-color cats, Buchwald said.

"Behaviorally, there's no difference from the color of the cat. It's tied into this whole mythology about the animal - don't let it cross your path or some foreboding or foreshadowing of evil - and that's an outdated superstition," she said.

It's not clear exactly how many shelters still seasonally ban black cat adoptions, said Kim Intino, the director of animal sheltering issues for The Humane Society of the United States, but it's a trend that seems to be fading - along with the once-common bans on bunny adoptions around Easter or puppy adoptions as Christmas gifts.

"If there were people out there performing rituals with animals, then I would think that Halloween would be a time for that, but a good adoption process would tend to weed that out," Intino said. "There's going to be incidents of weird abuse that happen no matter what. The remedy is not banning black cat adoptions."

As for pet-lovers dying to take home a feline in Kootenai County, the shelter is happy to adopt out animals, Morgan said. Would-be black-cat owners will simply have to wait a few days. There are plenty to choose from - out of 97 cats at the shelter, 28 are black, he said.

If nothing else, he said, the ban gives the shelter a chance to educate the public about other dangers pets may face during the Halloween season.

"It gives us a chance to remind people about safety and their pets. Always make sure that you keep Halloween candy out of the reach of pets, and if you own any cat I would make sure it stays inside. Dogs can get frightened by all the kids in costume, and the constant door opening of trick-or-treating gives animals a chance to run away," he said.