'Overlooked Black Dogs': A Photo Project That Brings Awareness to the Least Adopted Dogs

Black dogs are the most likely of all coat colors to be euthanized in shelters. And of course, they're no less worthy of adoption than their lighter counterparts, which is why Commercial Photographer Shaina Fishman decided to bring awareness to the issue with this great series.

Fishman teamed up with Sarah Brasky, the founder of Foster Dogs NYC and The Dog Matchmaker, to shoot 14 black rescue dogs. Fishman notes that black dogs are no different in personality from other dogs, but their color makes them difficult for shelter workers, who are often untrained in photography, to photograph. It's well known that a good photograph vastly increases an animal's chances of adoption, thus Fishman's aim:

While I can't take great photos of every black dog in a shelter, I can bring awareness to the problem and with this series, show that black dogs are stunningly beautiful.

So far, the series has been a great success. Five puppies that were part of the shoot were all quickly adopted after initial interest was low, the series continues to gain traction on Instagram using the #overlookedblackdogs hashtag, and prints have helped to generate donations for Foster Dogs NYC. Be sure to check out Fishman's website to see the full series and Instagram for more!

All images used with permission of Shaina Fishman. 

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Anonymous's picture

I have a mostly black Australian Shepherd mix and a Golden Retriever. It's interesting how people react to them differently. Most either love or don't care about the Golden while others either love or are afraid of the Aussie. I've even had children tell me he's scary because he's black.

[edit] Just came back from her website. Some really great stuff!

Fritz Asuro's picture

Wait, what? Even the "black" color for dogs is an issue as well? Black dogs are actually better especially for the ones you stroll around with. Lighter toned ones are mud magnets!

Anonymous's picture

I don't know. My black and gold dogs get equally dirty but from different substances. My golden once decided to take a midnight swim in a "creek" which we didn't realize was the town's open sewage channel until he came back up the bank! Yuck!!
My Aussie shows lighter gunk a lot better. :-/

Jim Bochicchio's picture

Thanks for posting this. I've heard about the black dogs being left behind before. I have 2 rescue dogs, black Irish Wolfhounds, littermates, male and female. Absolutely the best thing I ever did. Cheers to Shaina Fishman.

Michael Holst's picture

We adopted our black dog knowing that it's harder to place them because of their color. I kind of thought maybe it was all BS until the summer came and she comes with us everywhere. While it certainly isn't everyone there is a population of people who will go past a Golden Retriever smile and give it a pet and turn around, see my little black lab corgi mix and look afraid even though her tail is waging like crazy and she looks like a forever puppy. Glad we gave her a good home.

....dogs are the best.

Anonymous's picture

As far as I can tell, she doesn't make any money from her project.

Ryan Mense's picture

On the Etsy listing that was linked in the article, it says that $10 of the $25 price is donated. I don't know the dollar figure for Fred's project, but my review about the "Black Dogs Project" book says "portion of proceeds." They both sound a bit one in the same in that regard.


Anonymous's picture

Oh. I didn't look at that. I still wouldn't say she was ripping off his idea, though. Even if she got the idea from his project, since they're both helping to get the dogs adopted, it's all good. I can't imagine either of them are getting rich from their share of the proceeds.

Or she could have had the idea completely independently. The problem with adoption of black dogs is widespread, and it seems to me she's responding to the problem rather than looking for a market, which given the quality of the images I saw on her site/feed, and her bio, probably isn't an issue for her. If she's looking for some money for prints and is passing some of that on that's a good thing. We all need to be able to pay for that gear/travel/promotion/education somehow.

I mean, you're all certainly possibly right...it just jumped out as a bit "off".

Lenzy Ruffin's picture

Ripoff? I doubt a book on black dog syndrome published in 2015 is an original idea. Even if it is, Fred can't help them all himself. Should she do nothing to help spread awareness because she didn't originate the idea?

Hi Doug, just seeing this now but something is not a blatant ripoff unless one knows about it. That being said I had never seen that book before or head about the photographer. Glad to see it now and see how we both approached the photography.
I did not make any money from the project, it was in collaboration with a dog foster organization. Something to bring awareness and a personal project. Thanks to everyone who stuck up for me!
Doug Levy, any relation to Fred Levy by chance?

Kirk Darling's picture

I did not know this. I can't understand why. We've had almost all black dogs (mostly Labs). The worst dog we ever had was a yellow Lab/Shar-Pei mix. Our vet actually wrote us a long letter of all the reasons he should be put down.