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British photographer on a mission to save black animals from stereotypes

Black elderly dog posing for photo dog-happy
© emmaobrienphoto - Instagram

Emma O’Brien, British photographer living in South Africa, recently learned that black animals were often the last ones to get adopted in shelters. That’s when she knew she had to do something about it.

By Justine Seraphin , 22 May 2019

It’s terribly sad, but it’s true. Black cats and dogs often wait for months behind shelter bars while other, more colourful animals get adopted out into their fur-ever homes much quicker.

Stories and superstitions

One main reason for this discrimination is the superstition regarding black animals, especially black cats. We’ve all been told this at some point in our lives: if you see a black cat crossing the road in front of you, that means you’ll have bad luck in the future. Of course, this is just legend and belief, yet, it has a significant effect on black pet adoption.

The second reason for this discrimination has actually become more of a problem in recent years. Indeed, studies have shown that people will pick the pets they adopt based on their selfie potential. If a dog looks good in pictures, then it’s more likely to get adopted. There is sadly a misconception that black animals don’t look as good in photos as other animals, because their features are hard to see.

Some people also believe black dogs look more intimidating and aggressive than other dogs.

Black is the new black

When Emma O’Brien heard this fact, she was shocked. On the contrary, as a professional photographer, she knows just how photogenic black beauties can be. So she decided to do something about it.

She partnered up with several shelters in Johannesburg to create her Black Rescue Series. As the name indicates it, the series is all about portraying the beauty of black animals, and showing just why they should never be overlooked.


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O’Brien hopes the photos will change the way people look at them, and that they will help black animals all over the world leave shelters for good!


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