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Pet’Net 2011: A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

 

For the past couple of years I have been participating in a special event called Pet ‘Net. This event brings together bloggers, journalists and websites for a great cause – Pets.

Now in its 4th year, Petside.com’s Pet ‘Net Event maintains its commitment to educate people and honor the pets who love them. This year Petside has teamed up with Iams to donate food to local animal shelters. Please continue to read this post (especially towards the bottom) to find out how YOU can help (and it won’t cost you a dime).

We have six adopted pets. Five of them (four cats and a dog) were adopted from our local animal shelter. One of our cats was adopted as a stray kitten. Our pets are members of our family and they mean the world to us.

My heart breaks whenever I go to our local animal shelter. There are so many beautiful and loving dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals that are desperate to find a loving “forever home“. Every time I see their precious faces I just want to hug them and take them home with me. Sadly I know that is not possible. These animals need to find loving homes. 

I volunteer at our local animal shelter as a photographer. I go to the shelter a couple of times a week to take pictures of the animals.

Many shelters utilize local publications and events to show the public animals that are available for adoption. Other shelters use online resources such as PetFinder.com.

It’s hard to convince someone that they need to come in and meet an available pet with mere words along. What you need is some great photos to accompany the pet’s description. Often shelters will snap photos of the animals in their cages or kennels. To be honest with you it’s really hard to see the beauty in an animal through bars. It’s also not easy to showcase their individual personalities with those kind of photos.

Here are a few examples.

You can tell from the photos that these are beautiful animals. What you can’t tell from these photos is what kind of personality they have, how big they are, and what they look like from head to tail.

As a volunteer photographer it’s my responsibility to showcase each and every pet that I photograph and to bring out the best in them.

The first thing I do is remove the animal from it’s cage or kennel and try to place the animal in a more natural environment, or at least in a situation where it mimics a family’s home or backyard. That way prospective adoptive families can get a better sense of what the animal might be like in their home.

Our local animal shelter has large, fenced off areas in their backyard where dogs can run around. I’m grateful for the dog runs because it gives me the opportunity to play with the dogs I photograph and also the opportunity to let their personalities shine through, which I try and capture in photos.

Here are a few examples of dogs I’ve photographed at the shelter.

 

As you can see the dogs in the photos are in a more natural setting. Looking at the photos, potential adoptive families can “see” what the dog might look like in their backyard. It also gives an idea of how large the animal is as well as what it looks like from head to tail.

Here is an example of a dog in a kennel and running freely in a dog run. This is the same dog. Which picture do you think showcases her beauty and personality better?

 

When you are taking photos of animals that are available for adoption it’s a good idea to snap several photos. Not only does it show how the animal looks from all angles, but it also helps to give a glimpse of the pet’s personality.

Take for example Getty. I took several pictures of him. Hopefully his personality comes across in these photos. He’s a very sweet, calm and gentle puppy.

Sometimes photos do not always turn out their best, therefore making the animal not look their best either. If you are handy with a photo editing program you can “tweak” the photo to really make the animal shine.

Here is a photo I took of a dog name Butch. The second photo is the same photo that I “tweaked” a bit to really who off just how handsome Butch is.

 

I find cats to be a bit more challenging when it comes to taking their photos. Unlike dogs, cats don’t respond to basic commands like sit and stay. The trick is trying to find something the catch the cat’s attention long enough for you to snap their picture. Cats also tend to lose interest quickly so when you are working with cats you need to be prepared to snap a few shots right away. A high quality camera with a good sport/action mode would be helpful (but not necessary).

Here are a few examples of cat photos taken when the cats were out of their cages.

 

It’s much nicer to see a cat lounging around or being playful rather than hiding away behind the bars of a cage.

Here are a few helpful tips when photographing shelter pets.

– Use a quality camera, preferably one with a good action/sport mode if possible.

– Have toys and treats on hand to reward the pets and to grab their attention so you can take their picture.

– Use props whenever possible like sheets (backdrop), pillows, scratch pads, dog toys and so forth.

– Try to capture the animal’s personality and their best angles. Avoid photos that might make an animal appear aggressive. I took a picture of siblings (a brother and sister) playing. I know they were playing but the photo makes it appear as if they were violently attacking each other.

– HAVE PATIENCE! It can take a while to get a few decent shots. Don’t give up. Just exercise some good old fashion patience and you’ll find that you can take some beautiful photos of the animal.

– Introduce yourself to the animal. Let them sniff you so they feel comfortable with you. Some animals are at ease right from the start. Other animals are very fearful and might run and hide or lash out at you. Play with the animal. Talk to them. Pet them. Do whatever it takes to make them feel comfortable with you.

– If possible have an assistant. It helps to have someone interact with the animal. It also allows you to focus on snapping pictures instead of having to get a pet’s attention. Photos with animals interacting with people also make great shots.

– Make sure the pets are being photographed in a secure location. The last thing you want is for a dog or cat to escape as you are taking their photo.

– Have fun with it! If you don’t truly enjoy interacting with the animals, getting to know them and taking their pictures then you are not going to do your best work. If you find that taking pictures is not something you truly want to do perhaps you can volunteer in other ways, like taking photos at pet related events and fundraisers.

You do not need to be a professional photographer, or have an expensive camera with all the “bells and whistles”, to take photos of the shelter animals. Simply volunteer at your local shelter. Most shelters will welcome you with open arms. Often shelter staff and employees are too busy with the day to day operations of the shelter that they don’t have the time to take quality photos of the pets. That is why they rely on volunteers.

The only expense to you would be your time. Digital cameras allow you to take photos for “free”. You can also use props like old sheets and pet toys that you have lying around your home.

If you love animals and you love photography please consider volunteering at your local animal shelter as the pet photographer. 

Another thing I would truly love for you to take into consideration is helping to feed hungry shelter pets. Here’s how YOU can help, and all it will cost you is a few minutes of your time.

Share and Donate with Pet ‘Net’s interactive social media campaign.  To show pet lovers that there are many ways to support local shelters, Iams© Home 4 The Holidays and their Bags 4 Bowls initiative will donate 25 bowls of food to local shelters for every mention of the Pet ‘Net hashtag (#iheartshelterpets) and @IAMS handle on Twitter. 

You can use this tweet to make it easier (just copy and paste it into your Twitter feed).

Tweet @Iams with the Pet ‘Net hashtag #IHeartShelterPets and Iams Home 4 The Holidays will donate 25 bowls of food to local shelters

Users can also “Like” Petside’s Facebook page (www.Facebook.com/Petside) for an additional donation of 25 bowls and share a personal adoption experience on Petside’s wall for a chance to be featured on Petfinder.com as a Happy Tail story!

You can also find links to over 20 pet-centric websites and read articles on topics ranging from the benefits of adopting a senior pet to personal stories of strength. The site is www.PetSide.com/PetNet2011.

Also available on the Hub page is a voting tool where you can vote on your favorite article/bloggerThe blogger with the most votes will receive a $500 donation from Petside to the shelter of their choice. I would love you forever if you could vote for me! If I won I would donate to the shelter where I volunteer.

Our local animal shelter has had funding cut by $26,000 by our local government. The shelter cannot afford repairs to the roof, heating system or kennels. They are overflowing with so many cats that they are stacked in crates almost to the ceiling. Needless to say they have very little funds. That $500 would go a long way. It can help spay and neuter shelter pets to help control the pet population, or used to buy food or medical supplies.

All of our pets came from our local animal shelter. We adopted our first pet there 13 years ago. We even fostered kittens from the shelter (one had to be put to sleep, the other one we adopted). For all the years of unconditional love my pets have given our family the LEAST I can do is give back to the shelter who helped to bring them into our lives.

Please vote for me! I would appreciate that more then mere words can express.

If you are looking for a dog, cat, rabbit or other type of animal to bring into your home and make it a part of your family, PLEASE DON’T SHOP – ADOPT! There are thousands of beautiful animals desperate to shower you with love and affection.

Please also consider adopting an older pet or a pet with a disability. They have just as much love inside (even more!) then adorable little puppies and kittens.

November is Adopt a Senior Month. If you pledge to adopt a senior pet you could win a BISSELL Lift-Off® Deep Cleaning System for YOU and a shelter of your choice. For more information please visit http://www.petfinder.com/promotions/adopt-a-senior-pet-month.html.

PetFinder.com  showcases hundreds of available pets in your area. You can select what type of animal, breed, age, size and more. 

Pet Adoption
Thank you for taking the time to read my post. I hope you will take a moment to tweet and “like” the PetSide Facebook page to maximize the amount of food that will be donated to animal shelters across the country. I would also love it if you could take a moment to vote for my post so that I could win that donation for my local animal shelter.

THANK YOU!

 

Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this because I love animals and I want to do whatever I can to help them find “forever homes”. Any opinions expressed are my own.

**All the pet photos found on this page are copyrighted to Kimberly Vetrano, with the exception of the four stock photos of pets in cages appearing at the top of the post. Please do not use my photos without permission. Thank you!

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family, five cats, dog, a tank full of fish and snails. She is also a freelance writer and photographer.

Comments

  1. awww i love the pic of the little yorkie! how nice that you do that for shelters!

  2. Your photos are stunning! What an important lesson. THANK YOU.

  3. Awesome photos! And yes, pictures are so much more “telling” for pet personalities. With digital cameras there’s no need to conserve film, either. Shoot shoot and shoot some more (from pet eye level if possible). Great tips, thanks for sharing.

  4. LOVE the before and after pics to illustrate the difference… and is a huge difference that a simple picture can make! Thanks for writing about this with examples. You gave me some great ideas to share with my local shelter!

  5. You ar ea great photographer. I love the tweeking you did to the picture of Butch! And I soo want that Yorkie and Pug!! Great pictures!

    thanks for sharing!

  6. Ashley - Embracing Beauty says:

    What adorable pictures! This is a great cause!

  7. What a great service you provide! I wish more shelters had the type of photos you’re taking. I’m sure it makes a huge difference to make the pets look their best.

  8. I LOVE this. What a difference it makes for these sweet babies! There are few things one can do to help homeless pets more than to help find them homes! Kudos!

  9. Great pictures, beautiful animals! Voted for you!