Pet Me Forever Photo Project Helps Shelter Cats During Height of COVID-19 Pandemic

Local Headshot Photographer Puts a Name and Face on Fostering and Adoption Need

Brenda Boyd, Menifee headshot photographer, presents PET ME FOREVER project to Jessica McGregor of Animal Friends of the Valleys.

FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2020 – When the community could no longer just walk in to look at cats at Animal Friends of the Valleys (AFV), Brenda Boyd, AFV foster volunteer and photographer in Menifee, started photographing the cats in order to improve their looks on the AFV website, and increase the cats’ opportunities to get adopted.

On Friday, June 26, Boyd presented Jessica McGregor, foster program assistant coordinator, a 20×30 poster photograph of 63 shelter cats Boyd photographed between April 24-June 18, 2020. The title of Boyd’s photography project is PET ME FOREVER: Headshot Portraits Helping Shelter Pets Find Homes During the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic.

“The first photos Brenda did of the cats were of Wilma and Zeus, Manx siblings, on April 24,” says McGregor. “A few days after the photos were uploaded to our adoption website we got a call from a couple who lives nearly two hours away. The photos were what got them to the shelter to meet the pair,” continues McGregor.

“Witnessing it first-hand convinced me that we needed new kennel card photos for the adult and senior cats since potential adopters could only see the photos on the website, and shelter intake photos usually show a scared cat,” McGregor states.


“We believe the photos that replaced the intake photos has dramatically improved the look of each cat’s shelter card photo, which has led to the steady rate of adult and senior cat adoptions even during the COVID-19 crisis,” adds McGregor.

Boyd states, “When the coronavirus crisis started to hit hard in March, I was compelled to find a way to engage in my local community. While I am a health care professor at Loma Linda University, I also love cats and photography, so I reached out to AFV, the regional animal shelter near my home in Menifee, to see if I could help.”

“When I started to connect a name and face to these amazing shelter pets during this time, I was overwhelmed with compassion, and I just had to help my community. I saw first-hand that these little animals were also impacted by this pandemic,” she adds. Boyd’s desire is to bring attention to the need for more foster volunteers, and the urgency to adopt from a local animal shelter.

According to McGregor, “AFV currently has over 250 cats and kittens, and 25 dogs and puppies in foster homes. Between January-June, 82 cats, 492 kittens, 103 dogs, and 39 puppies have passed through foster homes as a result of the AFV foster program.”

“It is a blessing to have a local shelter that has stayed open during the coronavirus so the animals can be given a second chance to survive and thrive,” says Boyd. Shelter animals often come from loving homes, but the families can no longer care for them. Some shelter pets are strays, living on their own with limited or no food, water, or shelter.

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic started to escalate in early March 2020, Boyd began volunteering at Animal Friends of the Valleys in Wildomar. Boyd started with fostering Toby, a 17-year-old, orange tabby cat, and helping at the shelter a few hours a week with folding laundry, washing dishes, mopping floors, stuffing envelopes, and greeting at the front door. Since then, Boyd has fostered 10 cats for AFV, and has used her headshot photography skills to photograph over 85 cats in need of homes.

Fostering a cat or dog involves opening your home and volunteering your time to a shelter pet in need. Fostering is a commitment, and it is full of benefits for the shelter pet and the foster family. Fostering helps Animal Friends of the Valleys because of the love and consistency that a dedicated caregiver offers to the pet in a quiet, low-stress home setting.  Fostering provides the animal opportunities for socialization, play, and expressing a wide range of normal behaviors that are difficult to achieve when the animal remains in the higher-stress shelter environment.

Animal Friends of the Valleys has continued to maintain their high standard of treatment toward shelter pets during the coronavirus outbreak. Animal Friends of the Valleys is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that is dedicated to promoting humane care of animals through education and a humane, pro-active animal services program.

To learn more about shelter pet adoption or fostering, visit www.animalfriendsofthevalleys.com.

To contact Brenda Boyd, visit www.brendaboydphotography.com, or call 909-583-3033.