The Scottish Women’s Institutes is knitting overcoats for dogs with dark fur
The Scottish Women’s Institutes has stepped in with an army of knitters to help pooches get adopted after learning of the discrimination faced by dark-coated dogs.
Black Dog Syndrome means people tend to adopt lighter-coloured dogs, leaving many dark-coated ones in the care of The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Scottish SPCA).
Women from the SWI approached the fellow animal charity and offered their members’ services to knit "coats of many colours", in the hopes the techni-coloured coats will make dark-coloured dogs more attractive to potential forever homes.
It’s sad to think of black dogs being less appealing simply because of the colour of their coat
Christine Hutton, SWI national chairman
SWI national chairman Christine Hutton said: “We are encouraging our members to pick up their knitting needles and help a homeless hound.
"It’s a mission to help end Black Dog Syndrome, a phenomenon whereby potential new owners overlook black dogs in favour of their lighter-coated counterparts.
“Some of Scotland’s top craftswomen are making multi-coloured dog coats in aid of homeless pets desperately seeking loving new homes – to boost their appeal and help them become re-homed more quickly.
The women hope the colourful overcoats will help the dogs get adopted
“It’s sad to think of black dogs being less appealing simply because of the colour of their coat, but we hope that our knitters will be able to kit them out in coats of many colours and improve the chances of them being re-homed more quickly.”
There are many theories behind the workings of Black Dog Syndrome.
Dark animals tend not to photograph well, making it difficult for potential owners to distinguish their features when browsing online.
Get Quotes on Home Insurance
True stories of animal rescues
Mon, November 14, 2016
Extraordinary cases were humans have saved animals, including the phenomenal gorilla c-section surgery.
Feature China / Barcroft Images
1 of 31
It's not hard to see why this poor polar bear has been named the world's saddest polar bear after being kept in cramped conditions for 300 days in a mall in China
Pets with dark fur can look older than they actually are because any white or grey hairs will be easily noticeable, as well as looking more threatening because of the contrast of their white teeth against their fur.
But superstition has given black dogs bad image too. In British folklore, black dogs often appear as evil forces that represent death to those who see them.
Writers Sir Walter Scott and Arthur Conan Doyle played up these superstitions using spectral hounds in their stories and poems. In more recent years, Hagrid’s dog Fang in the Harry Potter books and films – a very docile and loving creature – was a big black hound. It is thought that sometimes these stories pass into people’s beliefs subconsciously.
The first knitted dog jackets were created by Edith Smith and Winnie Anderson, members of SWI groups in the Aberdeenshire Federation, and were donated to the Scottish SPCA rescue and rehoming centre at Drumoak, near Banchory.
People tend to overlook dark-coloured dogs and adopt lighter ones
Scottish SPCA Superintendent Sharon Comrie said: “This syndrome really does affect the adoption of animals in our care and, through no fault of their own, black dogs are almost always the last to find new homes.
"It’s a really creative idea to knit coloured jackets to show these dogs off to their best advantage.
“Knitted jackets will be ideal because they will be soft on the skin, have an element of give and stretch, and can be created in any, or many, colours of wool.
"Every knitted jacket that we receive will be put to good use at our rehoming centres across Scotland and with the SWI knitters’ support, we will be able to build up a collection of special jackets for our dark dogs to wear with pride.”
As one of the largest women’s member organisations in Scotland, the SWI is pleased that its members’ talents have been recognised by the Scottish SPCA and is encouraging its members to get involved.
The appeal to knit dog jackets comes as the SWI, currently celebrating its centenary, has put a focus on preserving and promoting traditional handicrafts like knitting, embroidery and sewing.
Black dogs can look more threatening because of the contrast of their white teeth
Ms Hutton added: “Our members love a challenge and this will support the efforts of the Scottish SPCA which does a fantastic job in promoting animal welfare and strives to end animal cruelty across the nation.
"We hope, in our own special way, that the SWI can play a small part in its efforts to match rescued animals with new owners.”
For more details of how to find your nearest Institute and learn or develop skills and make friends, visit www.theswi.org.uk or go to its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ScottishWomensInstitutes