Worth a Thousand Words

April 16, 2013  

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.

This article was originally published on September 6, 2012.

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14 Responses to “Worth a Thousand Words
  1. Thank you for caring, pictures are more than a thousand words.  We adopted our Sasha because of her “smiling” picture! Beautiful pictures

  2. laurieburton says:

    I love the picture of the dog with his head in your hand. Beautiful. Thanks for taking the time to help showcase these animals to the public!

  3. jennmartinelli says:

    Thank you so much for taking the time to do this wonderful work. It not only helps people see the promise of these lovely dogs, but it also gives them some joy and companionship.Thank you!

    • StubbyDog says:

      jennmartinelli So right Jenn, it’s been proved time and time again that great photos really help get the dogs adopted.

  4. SusanLawrence says:

    Awesome photos!

  5. GladysFoy says:

    This is very touching……..happy & sad!!!!  Thank you for posting those beautiful pictures & making people aware , how sad is for this poor animals. 

    • StubbyDog says:

      GladysFoy It’s always sad to see dogs and cats in shelters instead of homes, but with people like Sylvia and so many of you in the StubbyDog community, they have a chance at getting a happy forever home. And that’s the goal for everyone.

  6. KamrieLeBlanc says:

    I hope projects like this can help find more homes for these shelter pups! They’re absolutely beautiful photos! My heart strings pull for these shelter dogs, I have 2 rescued pits, one of which we pulled from the euthanasia list with hours to spare. They are such loving, forgiving and kind animals. I wish more people could see that.

    • StubbyDog says:

      KamrieLeBlanc We couldn’t agree more, we too wish people would see the beauty in these precious animals. And Sylvia’s photos portrayed their deep souls, so lovely.

  7. DonnaArledgeSegelken says:

    That is what I do in our area. I run On Borrowed Time and take photos (not studio ones cause that isnt set up like that) of all those there cats and dogs, that are on death row hoping to get out alive. Its amazing how much a photo touches folks and also helps the rescue groups and people see what is down there. Good job! If you are ever in Central Ga look me up!

  8. ReneeMKeller says:

    Beautiful photos!!  Bless you!!!  

  9. Navymom2010 says:

    What a wonderful story<3. God bless you <3

  10. dogwalker2012 says:

    Sylvia, you have really captured their essence. great job! i see beauty in what a lot of people fear. i think pits’ eyes are more soulful than other dogs. maybe it is the beholder.