TODAY | March 29, 2014
>>> this morning in "today's pets," black dog syndrome. it turns out, about 8 million animals live in shelters across the country, and one group of dogs is routinely passed over, simply because of the color of their fur.
>> and our animal advocate, jill rappaport, has more on why this continues to happen. jill , good morning.
>> this syndrome is so upsetting. it's unbelievable. despite the fact that most of these animals are healthy, beautiful, loving pets, a majority of them will get euthanized simply because they're black. they are sweet, loveable, and often unwanted.
>> if you're a black dog and you come to our shelter, your chances of getting adopted is pretty poor. unfortunately.
>> reporter: this growing plight is called black dog syndrome.
>> black dog syndrome is simply where black dogs get overlooked, and they're euthanized at a much higher rate.
>> reporter: from coast to coast , shelters are overrun with animals like these, even puppies who are just discarded because of the color of their fur. all because of what shelters claim are unwarranted misconceptions.
>> there are some old wiv's tales that black dogs are mean, and i think one of the biggest problems is they don't photograph well unless you have the right lighting and good photography equipment, so their pictures don't stand out.
>> reporter: in north carolina , hundreds just march to raise awareness about black dog syndrome.
>> more the larger ones, like the black labs, pit bulls , rot wilers, donor means are more affected. every dog should be judged on their own. a big black dog
>> reporter: this cause strikes a chord with country legend emmy lou harris .
>> there are so overwhelming numbers of them.
>> reporter: it was the rescue of her black dog , bella, that changed her life forever.
>> sweetest dog in the world.
>> reporter: the grammy award -winner has turned her nashville estate into a shelter.
>> i love music, but to have something else come in to fill your heart and know that you are making a difference, it's a gift.
>> reporter: advocates like emi lou harris say the stigma facing black dogs is an ongoing situation impacting shelters nationwide and that shedding a light on this problem could save more lives in the future.
>> there's plenty of black dogs out there in shelters waiting for a home, and maybe you'll be lucky enough to find yourself one.
>> jill has some friends that she brought along. we're making friends with them quite quickly.
>> i know.
>> they love you.
>> so sweet.
>> i see someone going home with somebody. now, here is the perfect example. black lab pure-bred puppies, no less, available for adoption from mainland animal rescue . look. stanley and stella !
>> stella .
>> they're very dramatic.
>> stella !
>> but really, the biggest problem, they say, with the black animals -- and i feature that in the story -- is that they don't photograph well.
>> it's very hard to picture and pick up their beautiful features.
>> if they shed, you don't see it, huh?
>> there you go, another reason to adopt a dog.
>> and it's just unbelievable. and of course, they'll get very big, but they are so special, so beautiful.
>> they're really good dogs.
>> i'm really glad you brought attention to this. i hadn't heard it before and i think it's fascinating.
>> a very serious plight and they're beautiful animals and we need to give them a beautiful, loving home.
>> you have to leave the phone alone. how else can we take pictures of you?
>> they are adorable.
>> you bring up a good point, we need photographers to go to shelters to make them look more beautiful and help them.
>> a great way to help them and help them find a loving home. you two are not going to have a problem, i don't think.
>> oh, i don't think so.