Pawsitive Shelter Photography (PSP) is the happy synergy of a love and a need: the pairing of a passion for pets and pictures and the successful marriage of digital photography and assistance for homeless cats and dogs. Created in 2011 by three people who wanted to help others visualize homeless pets as their pets, PSP quickly took off. It now operates with an army of 50 dedicated volunteer photographers, re-touchers and animal wranglers, each giving their talents to help the public see that shelter animals are worthy companions and friends.
At the end of fiscal 2011 (when PSP began), the euthanasia rate at Orange County Animal Services was over 11,000. At the end of fiscal 2016, it was 4,901. Of that number, only 692 were dogs, and most of those were listed as medical or behavioral cases. There is still much work to be done, and PSP is ready for the challenge.
PSP provides regular photographic sessions at both Orange and Osceola County Animal Services. With an average of three professional or near-professional quality portraits per animal, the group, which concentrates on older, harder to adopt animals, has photographed over 15,000 pets.
The photos have been a lifeline from pet to adopter and from heart to home. Anecdotal stories are many: the person who saw a photo online and drove from New York to adopt a specific cat; a photo that appeared on the NBC News homepage and was seen by an adopter in Vero Beach; and a couple in Tampa, another in Chicago, and countless locals who were touched by photos promoted on social media and moved to investigate.
It is no coincidence that the foot traffic at local shelters has jumped dramatically. That is what PSP does best. It sparks a connection that may last a lifetime.
PSP is not a charity, but you can help in the following ways:
1. Before you breed or buy, stop and adopt or foster instead. If you must, get one of each. Dogs (at least) are social and happier in pairs.
2. Contribute to a rescue organization. Our favorites can be found at http://shelterphotos.zenfolio.com/
3. If you have special skills, then volunteer with us. Or volunteer at a local shelter. It is rewarding. Go save a life and be a hero.