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Racism in the Dog Community: Adoption and Companionship

Updated: Oct 17, 2021

In the third post in our "Racism in the Dog Community" series we want to share some information on racism in the adoption and animal companionship world, including the limitations placed on who is able to adopt and/or own dogs. We encourage our followers to read the articles listed and be aware of these racist barriers, guidelines, and expectations in the dog community in order to call them out. We can create change when we no longer ignore or comply with these injustices.

Image Description: A dark gray rounded square is surrounded by a white square border. In the middle of the square includes white text in all caps: “Racism in the dog community.” Below this text in yellow is “Adoption and Companionship.”

An article titled "Recognizing and dismantling racism in animal rescue" for a blog called "The Sniff" lists adoption requirements that are used to discriminate against adopters from marginalized communities.

"Refusing to consider people who:

  • Don’t own their own home.

  • Don’t have yards, or fenced in yards.

  • Live a certain number of miles from your community.

  • Don’t feed the high quality food you feed.

  • Don’t have a relationship established with a vet."

"I was at a shelter where we were trying to implement open adoptions, but people kept falling into a pattern of denying adoptions for nit-picky reasons. I remember a Black family had come to adopt a dog, and as I walked into the administrative area I saw six staffers looking up the family’s address on Google Maps to see if they had a fence. And they had just adopted to a very young white couple who didn’t have a fence! There were just these conscious efforts to put up barriers."

- Leah Long, Community Cat Programs (CCP) Outreach Specialist, in "Best Friends Staff Open Up about Their Experiences with Racism in Animal Welfare"

"Historically, dogs have been classified as man’s best friend. But in America, manhood did not equally apply to white and black. If we were property, we could not own anything, not even an animal. The cultural adhesive that bound dogs to white people did not extend to African Americans, in part because some of us were not considered fully human enough to make best friends of beasts. There is, too, the financial responsibility of adding a pet in a context in which families historically had less disposable income to expend on the needs of a dog; it made dogs a luxury not easily afforded."

- Joshunda Sanders in "Healing Fraught History of African Americans and Dogs" for The Bark

Sources & Call to Action

We encourage our followers to share resources and continue to learn about racism in the dog world (both in the past and the present), so we can make a change. If you or someone you know has seen or experienced racism in the dog community, we want to hear your experiences and amplify your voices. Please leave a comment below or send us an email.

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1 Comment

Yenny Gonzalez
Yenny Gonzalez
May 24, 2022

This is very real. I own my home which has a completely fenced in yard. I am also a teacher with ample time off to spend with a new companion, although my mother lives with me and stays home all day. I have one child, a 9 year old daughter (old enough) and I am financially stable. You would think it wouldn't be as difficult to adopt, but at this point I'm starting to think my last name is problem. I have filled out application after application and nothing. I have made phone, sent emails and not even a chance to interview. At this point I am leaning towards purchasing.

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