October should be the month of the black cat, but for those sitting in shelters across the county, there is little reason to celebrate.
While big-box stores are filled with Halloween decorations depicting their likeness, sheltered black cats may have to wait until the holiday passes before they find their forever homes.
At least three shelters in Palm Beach County halt adoptions of black cats before the holiday, fearing for the cats' safety.
Some local shelters worry the cats will end up in the hands of sadistic people who want to harm them. Others fear the potential owners may be looking for a trendy decoration to show off to Halloween party guests, only return the pet to the shelter days later.
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"The bottom line is, we are trying to avoid any situation that may put a black cat into an unsafe environment," said Karen Buchan, community projects manager for Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control.
The county's shelter on Belvedere Road will halt black cat adoptions on Oct. 28. Adoptions resume the day after Halloween.
Pet lovers looking to adopt a black cat during that period can place one on hold and pick it up after the holiday. County officials also stop adoption of black cats on all Fridays that fall on the 13th of the month, Buchan said.
"There are satanic sacrificial rituals that still exist in our country and around the world, Buchan said.
The temporary ban is a double-whammy for black cats, who are already the least likely to get adopted in most shelters, officials say.
Some superstitious owners fear the pets will bring them bad luck. Others say they just want a more colorful cats, Buchan said.
At Tri County Humane Society in Boca Raton, shelter officials stopped adopting out black cats at the beginning of the month. Adoptions will resume on Nov. 1, Executive Director Jeannette Cristos said.
"We do that to avoid any problems," she said. "We don't want to have anything after the fact."
The Adopt A Cat Foundation in Lake Park also plans to temporarily stop sending black cats to new homes roughly a week before Halloween, said President and Founder Inga Hanley.
Although the foundation screens potential adopters, Hanley said she still fears for the safety of the cats.
"Years ago they used to do horrible things to black cats on Halloween," Hanley said. "We try very hard to screen everybody as carefully as we can, but you don't always get it right."