Worth a Thousand Words

September 6, 2012

Reprinted from stubbydog.org

A photographer focuses on capturing the daily life of shelter dogs


By Sylvia Elzafon

My inspiration for photographing shelter dogs began in 2005 after a visit to my local humane society. It was clear to me that there was a need for exposure for these precious animals living day in and day out in cold cages. Initially, the photos were merely shots of dogs from outside the cage, many of who were scared or simply unresponsive.

Needless to say, as the years have passed, it’s become overwhelmingly obvious that these sweet dogs photograph best when taken out of their cages – either outdoors or to a space where they can be their loving and playful selves.

The recent project with Dallas Animal Services has been such a gift. Thanks to a generous donor, the shelter has implemented a photo program that, so far, seems to be doing very well and receiving plenty of attention. It’s an opportunity for the photographers to interact with individual dogs as to get a better understanding of their personality and temperament, while giving them some much needed free and play time. It’s a chance to really capture their beautiful and shining personalities!

Each and every dog I photograph has a story to tell. Many have been neglected, abused, surrendered by an owner, or simply abandoned at the shelter doorstep. Though their stories are heartbreaking, their resiliency is absolutely incredible. Treats and toys perk some of the dogs up, but a loving touch and a belly rub is really all these precious pups long for. They love to lean on you, touch you, kiss you and receive affection in return. Shelter dogs live for this.

Luckily, because of the exposure, two additional local shelters and one high-intake shelter have reached out to me with interest in starting similar programs. I’m extremely excited to see these kinds of programs become standard in my local community shelters, and nationwide.

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