Photographer Helps Overlooked Shelter Pets Get Adopted by Making Striking Pawtraits

Maggie Epling knew she wanted to do something special and give back to her community during her college summer break.

Interesting in helping animals in need and in photography, Epling found the ideal chance to volunteer at the local animal shelter Pike County in Pike, Kentucky. 

Unique Way to Help Overlooked Shelter Pets Find Forever Homes

With her camera and photographing skills, Epling made lovely portraits of the dogs and cats in the shelter, with a special focus on the black-colored ones. 

The results were beautiful and glamorous photos of cats and dogs who want nothing more than a place that will become their forever home. 

Epling decided to contact the shelter after reading articles about how animals that have good photos are likelier to get adopted. The shelter was happy to have her and she was free to do her magic. 

During her time spent in the shelter, she learned from her fellow volunteers that the black dogs and cats are the ones that stay in shelters the longest. 

Unfortunately, there’s a superstition that black cats are bad luck and there’s a belief that black dogs symbolize bad, evil, or foreboding, something that’s seen throughout the years and throughout TV, movies, and literature.

But, one thing’s for sure-these are all prejudices and the color of the dog’s or cat’s fur says nothing about their character or personality.

Did the Photos of the Least Adoptable Dogs & Cats in the Shelter Do their Purpose?

The wonderful photos that Epling made were successful. They attracted the attention that these animals required. Although the shelter is in a rural location, the portraits caused people to reach out to the shelter, much to the shelter workers’ surprise. 

The approach of Epling to the lovely portraits involved getting to know the specific animal beyond its time in the kennel. To explain this better, she tells the Tiny dog story. 

Tiny looked sad in the kennel, with the ears drooping and holding the tail between her legs. But, when Epling took Tiny outside for playtime before the photo shoot, the dog became totally different and the stress and nervousness were gone. 

Tiny was so playful and silly. 

Since she has big ears and eyes with different colors, Epling wanted to focus on her striking features and express her vibrant personality. 

When they got to the studio, she says this was visible right away. When she squeaked a toy, Tiny’s eyes went up and she took the shot. Epling says that her favorite thing is how focused Tiny looks because this is who she really is: a determined, tiny dog!

Tiny’s photos are a perfect presentation of what Epling wanted to achieve through her volunteering in the shelter. 

She explains that she wants to use photography to present the sweet character of these dogs, outside of the shelter’s environment which can sometimes be stressful and too much for them. 

She wanted to show potential adopters how these dogs would look in their homes, in the park, or during a walk together. Photographing them through the bars of the cage doesn’t do much for them.