The Associated Press offered us a story last Friday on the sad state of affairs when it comes to big black dog love. Apparently there’s something about these guys—or about us—that makes humans more likely to cringe when they see one headed their way during a sidewalk stroll.

What’s more alarming than just basic big black dog angst is that adoption rates at shelters are supposedly lower for these dogs than for others. According to the ASPCA, shelter workers call it “big black dog syndrome.” Though no one keeps firm stats on pet colors in shelters, black cats and black dogs are anecdotally reported to be harder to place.

If we’re to believe this (and I have little doubt it’s true), what is it that makes us fearful?

Is it the actual aggressive tendencies of dogs like Dobermans and Rottweilers? Or is it more likely a purely human phenomenon? If the latter, is there something hard-wired into our brains on the issue of color, as is postulated to explain the common fear of spiders and snakes, or is it more likely the result of sensitization to the aggressive traits of certain breeds? Or perhaps it’s just a cultural bias left over from our Salem days?

Though I can’t answer the questions any more than the ASPCA could in the AP report, I do know one thing: Those of us more likely to think rationally on the issue of coloration should perhaps actively seek to adopt darker colored dogs and cats.

If we know the rest of the world has a distaste for them, it behooves us to take it upon ourselves to increase adoptions, if possible, by leaving the lighter ones behind for the less enlightened among us to snap up.