Pethealth Inc.
TSX : PTZ

Pethealth Inc.

October 28, 2011 08:00 ET

Pethealth Sheds Light on Black Dog, Black Cat Syndrome

Aggregate data from PetPoint challenges belief that black dogs and cats are harder to adopt

OAKVILLE, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 28, 2011) - Pethealth Inc. (TSX:PTZ) ("Pethealth" or the "Company")—In answer to numerous news articles and anecdotal reports in support of the belief that black dogs and cats are more difficult to adopt and wait longer in shelters, Pethealth has released aggregate data collected through PetPoint animal management system bringing new statistical insight to the discussion.

According to adoption statistics collected from 1,577 animal welfare organizations across the United States and Canada, average length of stay ("ALOS") for adopted dogs among the top five canine color categories(1) varies by 2.7 days, with black dogs adopted an average 1.3 days before red dogs and 0.6 days before white dogs. Likewise, ALOS for euthanized dogs varies by 1.7 days with white, brown, and tan dogs euthanized before black dogs challenging the belief that black dogs are discriminated against by potential adopters. Red dogs have the longest ALOS prior to euthanasia at 14.4 days.

Among the top five feline color categories(2) however, the 61.7 day ALOS for black cats prior to adoption is notably longer than white cats with the second longest ALOS at 55.6 days, consistent with the belief that black cats are more difficult to adopt than cats of other colors. However, ALOS for feline euthanasia tells a different story with brown cats euthanized on average one and a half days before black cats; white and grey cats also have shorter ALOS before euthanasia at 11.5 and 12.1 days respectively compared to an average 12.7 days for black cats.

Average length of stay for shelter pets both before adoption and euthanasia is a key metric animal welfare organizations use to measure efficiency and market demand for adoptable pets. Every additional day an animal remains in the shelter system increases the likelihood of euthanasia or exposure to contagious disease. Considering statutory laws in the United States typically require a minimum 3-day holding period for unidentified stray pets and the decision to euthanize is often based on available space, even half a day can have a dramatic impact on national adoption and euthanasia statistics.

Overlooked in discussions regarding the adoptability of black dogs and cats is the fact that the majority of shelter pets are black. Using point-in-time analysis of PetPoint data on October 27, 2011 involving nearly 120,000 dogs and over 160,000 cats, approximately 45% of available canines and 40% of available felines are classified black, followed by 20% white dogs and 23% grey cats. Although the euthanasia rate of brown dogs (32%) is higher than that of black dogs (28%), in terms of raw data the number of black dogs euthanized is more than double the number of brown. Likewise among cats, approximately 45% of black cats and grey cats are euthanized however those percentages translate to nearly 65,000 more black than grey cats euthanized over the same period.

"The fact that both black dogs and cats tend to have a longer average length of stay prior to euthanasia than dogs and cats of other colors may be influenced by the belief among shelter staff that they are more difficult to adopt," says Brad Grucelski, Vice President PetPoint Solutions at Pethealth Inc. "It's possible shelter staff actually give black pets more time in an effort to give them a better chance at an adoption. However, considering black dogs and cats significantly dominate the color spectrum of available pets and the additional supporting data aggregated via PetPoint, there is strong evidence that 'Black Dog & Cat Syndrome' is a product of population demographics as opposed to adopter preferences."

This is not the first time the Company has reported statistics on adopter preferences based on color. In 2007, Pethealth released two articles based on information collected from nearly 700 animal welfare organizations and approximately 380,000 dog adoptions. Findings from those statistics indicated brown, red, and white dogs were adopted an average two days sooner than black dogs. However, brown and white dogs were reportedly euthanized sooner than black dogs by half a day with both red and white dogs having higher euthanasia rates than their black counterparts.

Launched in 2005, PetPoint is a cloud-based software application through which animal welfare groups can manage their daily operations. As a hosted solution, PetPoint licensed shelters can reduce if not eliminate their IT related costs. Since its inception, PetPoint has evolved into the most comprehensive data capture software pertaining to the North American companion animal sheltering and rescue industry in the world. Year on year aggregate data on intakes and outcomes from PetPoint are published in the PetPoint Report, a monthly gauge of U.S. market demand for adoptable dogs and cats.

Statistics in this article are based on over 2.1-million intakes of dogs and cats in 1,577 animal welfare organizations across the United States and Canada, resulting in over 830,000 adoptions and over 740,000 euthanizations from October 1, 2010 to September 30, 2011. Results were based on the top five color categories for each species representing 79% of dogs and 90% of cats available in shelters. Color classification of dogs and cats in this study was performed at the discretion of the shelter.

About PetPoint

PetPoint, first introduced in 2005, is now licensed by over 1,730 animal welfare organizations in North America and has facilitated the adoption of over 3.3 million pets, including nearly 800,000 adoptions in 2010 alone. As a hosted application, animal welfare organizations can not only better organize and care for their homeless and abandoned animals, but can also reduce significantly, if not eliminate, their IT related infrastructure costs. PetPoint is provided free to animal welfare organizations on the basis that these same organizations use the Company's 24PetWatch microchip program for all companion animals adopted. The 24PetWatch microchip program is the most widely used microchip and lost pet recovery service operating in both Canada and the United States.

About Pethealth Inc.

Pethealth is a leading provider of companion animal services in North America. In addition, the Company is the leading provider of management software to North American animal welfare organizations through its SaaS-based application and is the leading provider of pet related database management services to the North American companion animal industry. Pethealth offers a unique range of products and services for veterinarians, shelters and pet owners through a number of wholly owned subsidiaries using a range of brand names including PetCare, 24PetWatch, PetProtect, petPals Direct, ShelterCare, PetPoint, Petango.com and ThePetangoStore.com.

Pethealth is based in Oakville, Ontario. To find out more about Pethealth, visit the web site at www.pethealthinc.com.


(1) In order of percentage population, the top five canine color categories accounting for approximately 79% of available dogs in shelters are black, white, brown, tan, and red.

(2) In order of percentage population, the top five feline color categories accounting for approximately 90% of available cats in shelters are black, grey, brown, white, and orange.

Contact Information

  • Pethealth Inc.
    Brad Grucelski
    Vice President PetPoint Solutions
    (866) 630-7387 x284

    Pethealth Inc.
    Katherine MacDonald
    Senior Business Intelligence Analyst
    (877) 738-4584 x618
    www.pethealthinc.com