Headshot Portraits Helping
Shelter Pets Find Home
My desire to help hurting animals has led me to this photography project called PET ME FOREVER: Helping Shelter Pets Find Home. The focus of the project is headshot portraits of shelter pets who I have either photographed at the shelter, fostered for a short time, rescued, or adopted. I just want to put a name and face on the amazing pets in search of homes…forever homes!
Shelter animals often carry a stigma of being rejected. As a volunteer at a local animal shelter, I often hear the questions: “Is there something wrong with this cat? Why is this dog or cat here?”
The answers vary, but mostly the “rejection” isn’t because of what the animal has done. Shelter pets end up in the shelter for a variety of reasons, and most of them are not the animals “fault.”
Many shelter animals come from loving homes, but the families can no longer care for them. Some of them are strays and they are living on their own with limited or no food, water, or shelter. It’s really a blessing to have a shelter, such as Animal Friends of the Valleys, so the animals can be given a chance to survive and thrive.
Over the past 35 years I have provided a forever home to 15 cats (Tinley, Tess, TJ, Emily, Cossette, Chanel, Maxwell, Hershey, Dude, Charlie, Rudy, Bobbie, Abby, Toby, and Ollie), 3 dogs, (Harley, Gracie, Bayleigh). Of the 18 who have found their home with me, all but four have come from a shelter or rescue, or were a stray. At one time my backyard was equipped with an outdoor condo that two feral cats–Mr. Black and Wesley–called home. Through the years, I have also helped several litters of unnamed kittens find homes.
Recently I started fostering cats from Animal Friends of the Valleys in Wildomar, California. My heart goes out to cats and dogs who live on the street, or who have been abused, neglected, returned, or left behind by their owners. It’s a tough situation to be in, when, as a little one, they are dependent on us to provide them with everything they need.
I want the world to see the beauty, the heart, and the resilience of these sweet animals. They just need a home. If they could talk, they would say, “Please…pet me forever.”
The biggest thing I have learned since fostering at Animal Friends of the Valleys is that pets at the shelter are stressed and afraid. It takes about 6-9 weeks for an adopted pet to really relax to be themselves.
One of the newest members of our home is Abby. We had her for three weeks in foster, and then we adopted her. Six weeks after her adoption we noticed something really special. She started engaging with us as if we were her family…SIX WEEKS after being adopted. That shows me that we really need to be patient. These little ones do go through so much before and after being taken to a shelter.
We have to remember to be patient. We don’t know what that little cat or dog has been through. But if we are patient, we will have a friend and family member for life! How wonderful is that!