What do yo do Sunday morning? Some folks sleep in, some visit places of worship, some do laundry...I spend my Sunday mornings volunteering at the Kansas Humane Society where I photograph shelter animals. To date, I have photographed canines, felines, rats, mice, ferrets, bunnies, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs and a pigeon, yes a pigeon. It warms my heart and renews my spirit every week to be helping those who can't help themselves. Shelter animals don't ask to find themselves there. They don't enjoy being there. They find themselves there because of circumstances beyond their control. Perhaps their family had to relocate and could not take them with them. Perhaps someone left a door open. Perhaps could be a thousand different reasons.
Last summer when I decided to volunteer at the KHS, many folks told me "That's going to be so depressing!". I knew it would be emotionally challenging but I also knew it would be rewarding. Knowing what might happen, I volunteered my services as a photographer. There have been days that have been sad when I see an animal has been returned or one that did not fair well. More often than not, I don't see the same furry face more than once because they have found their forever home.
My daughter asks me every weekend why I go. I tell her because they need someone to let the world know that they are there. They need me to help them find them a home. Trying to explain that we are a visual society filled with people who use their mobile devices to find their newest family member, would be lost on her little brain.
Photographing shelter animals takes many forms. Sometimes you get to play ball or snuggle for a few minutes. Sometimes you get to play psychologist, it's all going to be okay in order to convince them they really do want their portrait taken. Sometimes you get to be a FPC (feline personnel carrier) because while you are photographing one cat in Kitty City, when another Kitty City resident has jumped on your back for a ride! Wherever the morning takes me, I can't express how thankful I am that I get to help. Those little furry faces remind me that what I do has value, that I can make a difference in someone's day and life.
While I love seeing familiar furry faces, I know that if I don't know that they have found their forever home and maybe just maybe, my photos helped them get there.