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This year, celebrate with a 'mini-panther'



Published: Mon, October 30, 2006 @ 12:00 a.m.



This is the first year Angels for Animals has permitted the adoption of black cats in October

By KATIE LIBECCO

VINDY.COM CORRESPONDENT

CANFIELD -- Angels for Animals banned the adoption of black cats in previous years, fearing Halloween pranks and sacrifices. But this year they've not only lifted that restriction, they're celebrating black cats and their involvement in the holiday.

In fact, Angels for Animals sponsored two events in the spirit of Halloween to promote the adoption of black cats. Saturday night the facility hosted an adults-only Black Cat Party, followed by a smaller, family-friendly event on Sunday.

Diane Less Baird, the owner and operator of Angels for Animals, said the agency had restricted adoptions of black cats in October, but decided instead to use the holiday to its advantage.

"Every year, I must get five to 10 calls at Halloween saying, 'You're not going to let people adopt black cats, are you?' They feared the cats would end up part of Satanic rituals and such," Baird said. "But really, with all of the cats that there are in the world, who's going to come here and go through our adoption process and pay 90 for a cat they're going to kill?"

Angels for Animals' Feline Assistant Rachel Hamilla echoed her belief and said she's optimistic all of the black cats adopted around this time would not be harmed.

"This is the first year we've allowed adoptions of black cats at Halloween. We used to make people wait all of October until Nov. 1. But there's been a lot of research showing black cats aren't used in sacrifices," Hamilla said.

Hamilla said she frequently has potential owners come to the shelter and refuse black cats based on the superstition.

"There's no convincing them when they say they don't want a black cat," Hamilla said.

One reason the superstition has lived on, she believes, is the fact that a large portion of the stray cat population consists of black cats. That's a result of the cat gene pool, in which black is the dominant coat color, she said.

She has four black cats, and none have brought any bad luck, she said, adding, that their behavior isn't much different from others.

This year, adoptions of black cats were more successful than the last, but still a large portion of the agency's cats were ignored by potential families because of the color of their coat, she said.

"Black cats do tend to get overlooked. I think that's why a lot of the volunteers here have black cats," she said.

Baird also said it's harder to find black cats new homes than cats of other colors.

"We get a lot of black cats at the shelter, and they're difficult to adopt because of those old wives tales," Baird said. "But they really are some of the most resilient, most beautiful of cats. They look like little mini-panthers."

Baird said she wanted to take advantage of Halloween and use it in a positive way, to promote the adoption of black cats.

"What other holiday can you use to celebrate black cats?" Baird asked. "It'd be a shame to not promote black cats with the holiday."

Vicki Powell of East Palestine and her daughter, Liz, 10, are Angels volunteers who said they couldn't imagine their lives without their black cats. The Powells said they couldn't remember a single instance in which either of their two black cats brought them bad luck since they had been taken in seven years ago.

"I don't know what we'd do without them," Liz Powell, complete in her black cat costume, said at the Angels shelter Sunday afternoon.

Of her three cats, two are all black, and were strays the family adopted.

Powell said she adopted her first black cat about six years ago, which she let her husband name Chevy. The second black cat, Digit, was adopted a year later.

"Digit came to us in October and I was worried about Halloween and what kids would do," Powell said.

She said she didn't understand why the superstition turned so many people away from black cats.

"I would actually advise a black cat. They're beautiful," Vicki Powell said.

Hamilla agreed.

"My mother always said that black cats had the best personalities, that you'll never find a boring black cat. I think she's right," Hamilla said. "Once you get a black cat, you don't want any other kind."

klibecco@vindy.com




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