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Wednesday, September 12, 2012


     I am trying something new. I have started going to my local shelter in Naples, FL. The shelter is far less overwhelming than the Miami shelter and so much less stressful. I had been driving two hours each way to the Miami shelter... and cannot afford to do that anymore. It made sense to go to my local shelter .. so I did. In Miami they take in over 30,000 animals per year. Collier county is a much smaller place so the intake numbers are dwarfed in size- but, still too large- way too large. They take in over 6,000 animals each year.. that is too many. Between the two shelters- on each coast of the state of Florida - they take in close to 40,000 each year. I believe that is just about double the entire population of people in Naples. Something has to stop.. things have to change... they must.

     One of the things that is very different in Naples versus Miami is the overall shelter design and it makes a massive difference. They have a cage free cat room. I cannot tell you how nice it is to just sit down in a room and snap photos of cats playing -- instead of trying to take photos of crying cats reaching through bars. In the Collier shelter, when I am in the cat room-- I am often covered in cats.. I just sit in there taking photos while little furry bodies climb all over me purring... it is nice.. and sometimes I find myself forgetting-- that they all may not leave to go to homes-- but, they are happy and comfortable as I sit with them.

     Another huge difference is that the dogs are out - a lot. Collier has an amazing and hard working group of volunteers. Some people come everyday just to walk dogs. One wonderful thing that the shelter has is they have multiple outside yards for the dogs- some are open and in the grass and others are under a cover.. but, they have toys and pools ... and room for the dogs to play. It is a much better experience for the potential adopter to meet their potential new family member in one of those outside areas than it is to try and meet them through the chain link.

     My work is changing because of how things are in this shelter.. and I have also been working to make images that are less emotionally dark. I am working to make more images that show the dogs and cats playing and relaxing and just being themselves. I am also working to not just post straight photos, but to post digital pieces-- sometimes a mix of a photo - sometimes the whole thing has been altered... I am just trying to find new ways for people to truly see the shelter animals... to understand them better- to catch the eye of people who want a family member .. and not just someone reacting to a sad photo..

     In working these new images, I decided that there is more that I can do. I want to have a show in the shelter eventually.. it will take so much work.. but, until then I am now starting to offer prints to adopters. I am very limited in funds... so I am working to do one print each month.. to an adopter of someone who takes a dog or cat who has been there a little longer than the others.. one who needs a little more exposure. The first dog is named Champ.. I hope so much that someone comes for him.. I want so badly to be able to hand over a piece of my art to his new family... I hope what I am doing will help.
I will give Champ's adopter a signed print of him.. he is a good dog.. he takes a little bit to warm up, but
once he does he is a very friendly and wonderful dog. He deserves a great home who will
make sure that he never ends up in a shelter again. 

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