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Black Cat Adoption Ban Around Halloween On the Outs, Shelters Say

By Mauricio Peña | October 30, 2014 7:58am
  Most shelters still adopt black cats around Halloween.    
Most shelters still adopt black cats around Halloween.  
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Creative Commons/Alan Turkus

CHICAGO — If you are dying to adopt a black cat this week, you won't have a problem.

Most shelters have no restrictions on adopting the cats this week — even though urban legend has it the cats could be victims of satanic rituals or other stunts during Halloween.

"We do not stop adoption of black cats during Halloween," said Robyn Barbiers, president of the Anti-Cruelty Society, which has its main center in River North at 157 W. Grand Ave. 

There is no spike in the number of black cats adopted this month, she said. 

"People believed that witches would adopt black cats and use them for their rituals or wrongdoings. It's proven not to be the case at all," Barbiers said.

Barbiers said the agency had restricted adoptions "in the 1980s and early '90s."

"But for the last 20 years or so, we adopt black cats during October with our usual processes in place and have seen no problems," she said.

The agency screens applicants thoroughly to ensure the cats end up in safe homes.

Anne Markham, director of adoptions at the Lakeshore Animal Shelter, said her agency also maintains adoptions this week.

"For the most part, all animal shelters and agencies in the city continue to adopt black cats during Halloween," Markham said.

The cost can stop folks from adopting cats with malicious intent. Markham said with agencies charging hundreds of dollars, there won't be as many casual adoptions.

"From my experience, black cat adoptions during Halloween have never been a problem," Markham said.

However, for the last 24 years, Harmony House for Cats in Avondale has had some form of black-out dates for black cat adoption around Halloween. Up until three years ago, the agency did not adopt cats during the entire month of October, manager Jennifer Zameic said. Now the prohibition is during the week of the holiday.

"We do this as a precaution to protect the cats from being used as props or from being hurt," Zameic said.

Whatever the case, Barbiers said there was a huge need for good homes for cats — even more so than dogs.

"Cats are wonderful pets," Barbiers said. "It's unfortunate that throughout the country they outnumber dogs in shelters. They really are the underdog."

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