Susan Maxwell of the Toledo Area Humane Society gives some attention to Otis, a black cat that is up for adoption.
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For years, many animal shelters have refused to allow people to adopt black cats right before Halloween, fearing that some people might mistreat them.
"We do not adopt black cats out through the month of October," said Barbara McGrady, president of the Society for the Protection of Animals in Fremont. "The reason being, there are Satanists, even though no one ever sees them. The Satanists search for black cats for use in Halloween rituals. And there have been instances of Halloween pranks" being played on animals.
Dave Plunkett, manager of Paws and Whiskers, said the Satanists weren't as much of a concern as callous partiers.
"Our concern is people who would adopt it for a party prop, use it for the party, then boot it out the door," Mr. Plunkett said.
Many agencies, such as the Defiance County Humane Society and the Lenawee Humane Society, do allow folks to adopt black cats in October - they just can't take them home till November.
But the Toledo Area Humane Society has stopped this practice, saying there's no evidence that black cats adopted around Halloween are more prone to abuse.
"We looked into this, and it's an old wives' tale," said Susan Maxwell, public relations director for the Toledo society. "There is no evidence that anyone has bought a black cat to do a mean thing to."
Even if mischief-maker dashed into a shelter to get a cat, they would find it difficult to do quickly. Most shelters do background checks on potential adopters, and require them to fill out detailed forms to determine their suitability to adopt an animal. They also charge fees. Humane Society of Hancock County in Findlay charges $60 for cats; Paws and Whiskers Cat Shelter in Toledo charges $65; Society for Protection of Animals in Fremont asks for $75, as does the Humane Society of Lenawee County in Michigan if the animal has been neutered or spayed.
The fee alone would put off most folks, Ms. Maxwell said.
"If someone's going to get a cat to do mean things to, they're not going to pay $80," Ms. Maxwell said, referring the adoption fee her agency charges. "If someone's going to be mean to a cat, I don't think it matters what color it is.
"Cruelty is year-round," Ms. Maxwell added. "It doesn't come to a head any more now. The sad fact of the matter is that people adopting back cats at Halloween is the least of our worries."
The Humane Society of the United States backs this position.
"There are no studies on abuse rising at Halloween," said Kate Pullen, director of animal sheltering issues for the national group. "I wouldn't say there aren't people out there who want to do harm to animals. I just don't think they're going through the adoption process to get one."
Ms. Maxwell added that she understands why other animal agencies don't allow adoptions at this time of year.
"I can see why they would say, 'let's err on the side of caution.'●"
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