It’s hard to believe that five years ago I started volunteering at PAWS. Since then, I’ve photographed 1400 cats! That’s right, 1400!!! I remember how excited I was the first day I started. So much has changed since then, but one thing hasn’t. There are still many homeless cats in need of a forever home.
When I approached PAWS about photographing the homeless animals, I had two goals in mind. One was to practice photographing pets, the other was the hope that just 1 of my photos would make a difference in helping that pet find it’s happily ever after. There is much evidence showing that better photos of homeless animals means those animals find a family to adopt them more quickly than the animals who don’t have a good photo. Think red eye (or in the case of animals, green “devil” eyes), blurry photos, photos depicting unhappy and scared animals, and animals behind wire bars.
Over the years, my skills as a photographer have grown. But I have always strived to capture the animals being lovable, playful and like someone you’d want to have be a part of your family. It’s not always easy, and I don’t always succeed. Being in a new place, not sure why they got dumped there, and having to share their space with other animals can be really traumatic for these shelter pets. Sometimes they just need more time, sometimes, they don’t get over their fears and it takes a really special person to overlook that and take them home. Centre County PAWS is a no-kill shelter, which means these animals will always have a safe place to live, even it they don’t realize that.
And that is something I really love about volunteering with PAWS. I’m fortunate I live in a community that cares so much about these animals. They've raised enough money to build a state of the art facility, many of the animals stay in foster homes until they are adopted and those that live at the shelter, have a wonderful team of volunteers that care for them all day long, every day of the year.
Volunteering is so rewarding. Even if I’m super busy or stressed, I always feel good when I’m photographing the cats on the weekends. And when I hear someone say that they came to PAWS to adopt a certain cat because they saw my photo, well, that just makes my day! I wish I could help all the animals in need of a home, but as long as I can make a difference in the lives of the ones I do meet, I will keep doing this.
If you or someone you know has adopted a cat from PAWS because you saw one of my photos, I would love to hear from you! Send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me your story! And if you are looking for a cat to add to your family, check out these adorable ones currently looking for a forever home. For more information on these and other animals available for adoption, go check out the PAWS website. And if you’re not, please share my post, you just never know who will find their new best friend!