SHELTER PORTRAITS: BIRCH

Birch - PitbullThe most rewarding thing I have done with my photography in the last year is to help find loving homes for some of Buffalo’s many adoptable but homeless rescue dogs. After being taken in by the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter a lot of these dogs needs a good portrait to help with adoption efforts and to provide a vehicle to help get the word out about their individual stories. Those among you that follow me on social media or live in Western New York have likely seen many of these dog’s portraits being shared on Facebook or promoted by shelter volunteers and animal lovers all over the region. I’m now going to be sharing some select images from this project every month on my blog as well. Erin and I have three dogs of our own at home, two of which are rescues, and one of them came from this very shelter.

The City Shelter is just around the corner from my studio, so it’s really easy for volunteers there like Dustin Yourman, Kerry Neaf, Suzanne Laba, and Ruth Westphal-Bucholz (and all the other volunteers at the shelter who are amazing and deserve way more than just this little shout out – so someone throw them a fancy cocktail party ASAP!) to walk dogs over to the studio where they can play, have an adventure, and get their portrait taken. Erin also volunteers at the shelter and has primarily been the one who works with the animals on set while I am photographing them – though if you ask her she’s only doing it for the excuse to get to pet literally every adorable adoptable dog at the shelter.

Most of the dogs I work with at the shelter are pit bulls, and sometimes they have a harder time than other breeds getting adopted because of the undeserved stigma surrounding them and a few other breeds. A good portrait goes a long way to showing these dogs’ personalities, building up people’s interest in meeting them, and helping to establish a connection between the dogs and their potential new homes. I’m also a big supporter of organizations like notabully.org that want to change the stigma surrounding these loving dogs. The volunteers and I have found that even long-term residents who have had trouble getting adopted quickly find homes after these images get out into the community, so I’m excited to start sharing some of their images and stories here on my blog as well.

The silly looking joker up at the top of this post is Birch – he’s a very happy two-year-old boy who has the funniest pit smile I’ve ever seen. He came to the shelter as an unclaimed stray and is currently up for adoption. Birch would be an amazing dog for someone who wants a new best friend that they can play and possibly pose for old-timey portraits with – which I am confident is this dog’s true calling, If he was born 100 years ago he’s be a shoe-in for a C.M. Coolidge painting.

Read more about Birch on his petfinder.com page 

SHELTER PORTRAITS: BIRCH

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