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November 21, 2012

Wichita girl wants to help more black dogs get adopted

Madison Bell wants to give black dogs a better shot.

Madison Bell wants to give black dogs a better shot.

The 12-year-old Wichita girl, a seventh-grader at Mayberry Middle School, recently launched the Black Dog Club, an effort to raise awareness about a bias against black animals that often keeps them in shelters longer than their lighter-colored counterparts.

“Black dogs are overlooked because they’re not unique enough. You can’t see their faces very well,” said Madison, who volunteers at the Kansas Humane Society.

“When I learned about it, I was shocked. I wanted to do something to help.”

On Friday — retail’s Black Friday — Madison will help the Humane Society host the Black Dog Adoption Drive, an event geared toward getting more black animals out of shelters and into loving homes.

From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, the Humane Society will waive adoption fees for all black animals. Fees for other animals will be discounted 25 percent.

Madison plans to be there to encourage visitors to join the Black Dog Club, which she launched last month as her Girl Scout Silver Award project.

Madison’s effort has “really kind of taken off,” said Jennifer Campbell, spokeswoman for the Kansas Humane Society. “People understand the club and are quite charmed by Madison and her dedication to what we do.”

Campbell said a bias against black dogs, sometimes called Black Dog Syndrome, is noticeable at the Wichita shelter and elsewhere. Black dogs’ facial expressions are harder to see and to photograph, so “they don’t grab your eye as quickly as brighter-colored animals,” she said.

Most telling, she said, is how patrons seeing a litter of puppies often opt for the lighter-colored ones.

Since launching her club with a booth at Woofstock, Madison has raised about $1,300 for the Kansas Humane Society — funds that help pay for veterinary services and other needs for shelter animals. The effort is her Girl Scout Silver Award project.

“Really,” she said, “I just hope we save a whole lot of animals’ lives.”

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