EJ MANUEL FOR DIAMONDS IN THE RUFF

Buffalo Bills Quarterback EJ Manuel
Buffalo Bills Quarterback EJ Manuel is a dog lover. Him and his pit bull Titan have been together since EJ’s college days – and they’ve even been featured on the NFL Network together. EJ understands the importance of giving dogs a healthy and loving environment and is dedicated to helping change the negative and often unfounded stigma surrounding pit bulls and similar breeds.

As many of you know, I’m a dog lover too, and I donate a lot of my time to working with local rescue organizations that help dogs in bad situations find loving new homes. Lately I’ve been teaming up with Diamonds in the Ruff – A Buffalo, NY based rescue and adoption organization that helps rescue animals, finds them foster homes, and ultimately works towards placing them with caring families.

Adoption portraits are great and can really help individual animals, but there’s a much bigger audience out there who needs to be made aware of the amazing work that the volunteers at these rescues do for these animals, so Diamonds and I wanted to take it to the next level with our collaboration. We’ve been working on a very special series of videos and portraits that pair well-known animal lovers from WNY with adoptable dogs from DITR –  EJ and Vera are our latest subjects, and they make an amazing team.

EJ and I aren’t the only ones who are enthusiastic about Diamonds and helping WNY’s dogs – we’ve also partnered with Max Brown and Scott Allen of Partners + Napier, a Rochester, NY based advertising agency, and Mark Montalvo of Skin Digital Retouching. Max actually adopted his own dog Bella from Diamonds, and Mark has generously donated a lot of the retouching work for the adoption images I’ve created the past few years for the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter.

Vera has been with Diamonds in the Ruff Animal Rescue for a while now. Now it’s time for this wonderful, happy girl to find her forever home. Don’t be afraid to fall in love. Help us spread the word about Diamonds, whether you’re a dog lover, #Billsmafia, or just a fan of my photography – You can visit DITR’s Facebook page to find out more about the organization and adopting Vera here.

Buffalo Bills Quarterback EJ Manuel with Vera , an adoptable pit bull from Diamonds In The Ruff Rescue in Buffalo, NY

BEST OF ASMP 2015

Emilio

I’m so honored and excited to announce that my ongoing Shelter Dog portrait series was a winning finalist in the American Society of Media Photographers Best of 2015 Awards. For the past few years I’ve been working with local animal shelters and rescue programs in Buffalo, NY to provide adoption portraits of long term canine residents who are in dire needs of finding permanent and loving homes. These intimate portraits really give people an opportunity to connect with the animals and give them something that makes it easy to share these dog’s images and stories over social media – helping them to go viral in the local community and often allowing pups that have been at the shelter for months to find new families in a matter of days.

You can read my interview with AMSP here.

You can see the rest of the 2015 winners’ amazing work here. 

Bram Birch - PitbullPetunia - An adoptable rescue pit bull from Buffalo, NY. Apx 4.5 years old female. Stache

SHELTER PORTRAITS: MINNIE

Minnie is an adoptable pit mix currently sheltered at the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter

I’ve worked with a lot of dogs from the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter in the past few years, and I’ve bonded with a lot of them and followed their post adoption stories, but this is the first time that the volunteers have given me the awesome and special responsibility of actually naming one of these adorable pups — so I’d like to introduce you all to my friend Minnie — this one’s special to me.

She may look like a little puppy, but believe it or not Minnie is a little older, She’s one of those dogs that’s always going to have that “forever puppy” look. She was surrendered to the shelter by her previous owner, and while she plays very well with her friends at the shelter it is still recommended that this pit mix be adopted into a home with no other small dogs, as she can be a bit energetic and rambunctious when playing. Otherwise she is a sweet, happy, and curious girl who bonds quickly with people.  She hasn’t been at the shelter long, but I’m sure that with your help we will be able to find her a new home in no time.

Help spread the world about this sweet adoptable girl by sharing this post or her Petfinder page — where you can find all the relevant info about meeting or even adopting her.

Minnie is an adoptable pit mix currently sheltered at the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter

ASHA SANCTUARY

Donkey photographed at Asha Farms Animal Sanctuary in Newfane NY

I love the work I do with rescue dogs — it’s incredibly rewarding to me and it helps to find new homes for wonderful dogs who have come out of some really bad situations — but all too often we lose sight of the other animals that face abuses in our world. The ones that need help and are commonly denied it because we have institutionalized the disconnection we have from our traditional food sources — the “meat comes from the store” mentality. We have become the largest consumers of meat in the world, and have over-industrialized much of our agricultural production. Because of this, many of us have never seen a cow or chicken up close, let alone considered the impact they have on our day-to-day lives or how our habits of consumption affect their wellbeing and ethical treatment. While not everyone may agree with eating meat, or conversely with living a vegan/vegetarian lifestyle — I think that it’s important to acknowledge that there are people trying to change the lives of these animals for the better.

Asha is a farm and livestock sanctuary in Newfane, NY that has been rescuing and giving a long-term home to livestock and working animals that have faced illness, abuse, and near slaughter. They have been in operation since 2012 when former HSBC Bank executive Tracy Murphy, spurred on by her research into abusive farming practices and animal research, left her job to start the small shelter farm that quickly grew into Asha Sanctuary and its associated vegan and cruelty-free foodways education programs. Tracy has amassed quite a group of animals at Asha, many saved at the last second from auction or slaughter. I’d been looking to work with a more diverse selection of animals and I was focused on finding a group that was involved in rescue or animal rehabilitation. Asha Sanctuary’s name kept popping up over and over again in my research, and serendipitously Tracy reached out to me at almost the same time to inquire about the possibility of creating some new animal images to use in Asha’s fundraising and educational materials — so it was something of a perfect match.

Cornish Game Hen photographed at Asha Farms Animal Sanctuary in Newfane NYCow photographed at Asha Farms Animal Sanctuary in Newfane NY

We worked with Albert, a young calf who was rescued at just a day old —abandoned and separated from his mother and found with his umbilical cord still attached. Albert was in bad shape until he was nursed back to health at Asha by Tracy, where he now has the chance to be the playful and sweet animal he has grown into. Seeing him run around the pasture, eat fruit, and chase the other animals reminded me so much of the way my dogs act. Albert has a great affinity for people and the attention they give him, coming right up alongside you and rubbing his head against your hand until you pet him. It’s amazing to see how much he has imprinted on Tracy and how affectionate he was towards my team – essentially acting like a big puppy the whole day.

Turkey photographed at Asha Farms Animal Sanctuary in Newfane NY

Another one of our favorite subjects was Abraham — A turkey who was rescued from slaughter by another sanctuary before coming to Asha. He has been debeaked and wasn’t in the best health when he was first rescued due to the cramped quarters he had been living in. But much like Albert, living at Asha has given Abraham a whole new outlook on life as he can roam the property and freely interact with the visitors and other animals. He also has a thing about shoelaces, as he managed to untie mine three or four times during the course of the shoot at Asha.

Michael the goat from Asha Sanctuary in Newfane NY

Finally, Michael is a young goat whose main interest in life seem to be head-butting me every chance he got. I really wish we had grabbed some video, because he was like a little ninja, coming out of nowhere to bop me whenever he could. It’s pretty normal for goats, especially young ones like him, but it certainly made for an entertaining day of dodging him and having my assistants watch my back to make sure the little guy wasn’t trying to sneak up on me to show me he was the boss. It was actually pretty cute, like a little kid who thinks he’s a tough guy.

You can visit Asha during any of their open hours to meet and bond with these wonderful animals. You can also help sponsor the care and treatment of individual animals as many of their newer residents have ongoing medical needs due to the their previous treatment and neglect at the hands of others.

Red Chicken photographed at Asha Farms Animal Sanctuary in Newfane NY

ADOPTABLE: PETUNIA

Petunia - white adolescent pit bull

About a year ago, a skinny white pit bull was found wandering near the Buffalo waterfront alone and scared. She was a sweet girl who had some trust issues, and very little was known about where she came from before she was found and placed with the volunteers from a local rescue program called Educate-A-Bull that aims to both educate the public about the false and harmful stigma surrounding bully breed dogs as well as rescue, rehabilitate, and find wonderful homes for these in-need animals. The program’s volunteers worked hard and did an amazing job of getting her healthy, noursihed, and socialized again. They named her Petunia.

After a local news station ran a story on the work I’ve done with the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter, a group of Educate-A-Bull’s volunteers contacted me to see if I would be interested in working with their program and creating an adoption portrait of this tiny lady, since she is one of the program’s long-term residents. Of course I jumped at the chance to get to meet, photograph, and play with this cute four and a half year old pit bull terrier.

Petunia is looking for a new home with a loving and experienced owner. She’s a wonderful dog that has been with Educate-A-Bull for about a year, and her ideal home would be one without children or other pets – preferably with an owner who can give her a lot of attention and make her feel truly welcome as she settles into her new home.

She is house and crate trained, and current on all her vaccinations. You can read more about little Petunia on her Educate-A Bull page.

Please help spread the word about Petunia’s story. I know together we can find her a forever home!

Petunia - white adolescent pit bull

SHELTER PORTRAITS: LINDA BLAIR

CBAS Adopted Dog Linda BlairFor movie fans, the name Linda Blair likely evokes memories of the actress who played Regan MacNeil in the Exorcist, crawling backwards down a flight of stairs or retching pea soup all over a couple of priests, but nothing could be further from the truth when it comes to this sweetheart. This very petite pit was named Linda Blair by the volunteers at the City of Buffalo Animal Shelter in honor of the horror legend’s work with dogs of all kinds through her Linda Blair WorldHeart Foundation and especially her efforts to rescue and change the stigma surrounding certain breeds. Continue reading “SHELTER PORTRAITS: LINDA BLAIR”

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. Continue reading “SHELTER PORTRAITS: BIRCH”