Over the last few months I have been slowly getting involved with a group that I think is pretty special. It’s called Picture Them Adopted. It’s a group of photographers that visit the Manatee County Animal Services facility to take more professional photos of the animals that are waiting to be adopted. Founders, Caryn Hodge and Ruth Uecker work very hard to coordinate both photographers and handlers in order to make sure as many animals as possible are photographed with the goal of making the shelter a totally no kill shelter.
I first heard about the program a couple years ago through my friend Stacy White. She had heard about the program at our local photography club and thought it would be a great way to practice her photography. She had asked me on occasion to come watch to see if I might be interested in joining. Initially I thought it would make me sad. I thought I would want to bring all the dogs home with me. Then Stacy asked me to come sit in on a workshop that was being given by Erica Matyas a representative of HeARTspeak. A global network of animal photographers, graphic artists, writers, illustrators, painter and advocates who provide their time and services pro-bono, to animal welfare organizations. After hearing Erica speak I was hooked. Besides her and members of her organization reaching out to help train local photographers and donating much needed equipment she also came to speak at our local photography club meeting.
With my schedule sometimes being hectic it took me a couple months to attend the required volunteer training class for anyone who wishes to spend time helping at the shelter. I have now visited twice to take photographs. Every time I go I do fall in love with at least one of the dogs. But, now that doesn’t scare me. I know that the end goal is to find these dogs a good home. All the dogs are photographed when they arrive at the shelter and most are scared and unsure about what is going on. Those photos are not a true representation of what kind of dog they really are… When I finish with my edits and send my photos and descriptions away each time to be uploaded to the website I feel really good about it. My hope is that all the groups photos will have a ripple effect and make a real difference to the lives of the dogs and their new owners.