Black Cats = Black Sheep at Local Animal Shelters, Especially Around Halloween | The Daily Pulp | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida

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Black Cats = Black Sheep at Local Animal Shelters, Especially Around Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, the plight of black cats is pretty grim. Several Palm Beach shelters are putting the temporary kibosh on black-cat adoptions out of fear that the animals will be ritualistically tortured or used at a party like a rented monkey. New Times caught up with representatives from a few shelters to learn more about orphan black cats' Halloween outlook.

"The animals can be adopted, but we don't release them [until after Halloween]," says Karen Buchan, who has been community project manager at PBC Animal Care and Control for almost 30 years. Halting releases around Halloween has been the shelter's policy for as long as Buchan can remember.

The real kicker is that although this time of year is especially bad for black cats, the dark-furred felines have a pretty terrible adoption rate year-round compared to others decorated with stripes, markings, and charming little fur mittens, according to Buchan. Apparently, there aren't many minimalist cat adopters out there.

What's equally saddening is that "it's not just black cats; it's black dogs," Buchan says. "People are superstitious too that black dogs are representative of evil."

Superstition withstanding, two shelters we spoke with in Broward County are opting to operate business as usual this Halloween season but with a careful eye for anything suspicious.

"We used to [halt black cat adoption], and we kind of stopped right now because there's such a need to get these cats a home. What we do now is take it case by case... If there is some reason to be concerned, we'll deny the adoption," says Lisa Mendheim, public education coordinator at Broward County Animal Care and Adoption. The Humane Society of Broward County has a similar policy.

Representatives from three shelters say that they do not typically see a spike in the demand for black cats around Halloween. The extra adoption protection is precautionary, according to Buchan.

Halloween or not, isn't it time South Florida (and America) overcomes its longstanding cat bigotry? Setting the record straight, Buchan, who has owned many cats, including black ones, says, "Are black cats bad luck? No, they're not." There you have it.

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Leslie Minora

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