Homeward Bound

Innovations like improving shelter pet photography, housing adoptable animals at hotels, and hosting large-scale event enables more pets to find permanent families

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An 'after' shot of a kitten up for adoption.
Photo courtesy of One Picture Saves a Life


Sitting Pretty

A great photograph can raise an animal’s odds for adoption significantly. Renowned pet photographer Seth Casteel, of Underwater Dogs fame, joined forces with charitable website GreaterGood.org in 2013 to create One Picture Saves a Life. The initiative provides shelters with tutorials on grooming techniques and how to take great pictures of shelter pets.

“One group working at a city shelter in L.A. saw an increase in adoption rate from around 40 percent to 97 percent after using improved photography and marketing techniques,” says Noah Horton, director of operations at GreaterGood.org.


photo courtesy of one pictures saves a life

The 'before' shot of the same kitten.


Anyone can get involved, Horton says, by finding participating shelters at www.onepicturesaves.com or by watching training videos on the site and then offering to take adoption photos at local shelters.

Animal Samaritans in Thousand Palms recently received donated professional photography equipment to help increase their adoptions. “Thanks to Shelter Art Foundation, we now have our own impromptu photo studio with a state-of-the-art camera, strobe light, backdrop, and all the equipment needed to take quality photos of the animals,” says Animal Samaritans C.O.O. Tom Snyder.

The Palm Springs Animal Shelter works with HeARTs Speak’s Perfect Exposure Project, another program that helps train volunteers on everything from capturing great images to maximizing social media exposure for adoptable animals in their care. Visit www.heartsspeak.org for more information.


Temporary Digs

To boost its foster base (fostering is when pets awaiting adoption stay in private homes rather than shelters), Palm Desert–based Loving All Animals created the Seniors Offering Shelter Program, which connects pets needing a home with a senior who wants companionship but may not want to make a long-term adoption commitment, according to Saleen Rowan, LAA’s Foster and Super Pet Adoption Festival program director.

“Seniors in our program receive many of the health benefits of having a companion pet, such as increased activity levels and social engagement,” she says.


photos courtesy of hearts speak

A photo makeover for Phoebe, a HeARTs Speak dog.


The organization also offers Mobile Mutts limousine tours. “Individuals ride in style to see adoptable animals at our local shelter and rescue groups,” she says. “We do this to help show that shelter animals are as beautiful as ‘designer’ pets. Our motto is, ‘From a home in the shelter to the shelter of your home.’”

The Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage recently paired with Thousand Palms–based Animal Samaritans to launch the Dog Samaritans Adoption Project. The resort hosts “individual VIP canine stays” for one adoptable dog at a time until a permanent, loving home is found. Finley, the first canine resident, was adopted within 48 hours after arriving at the resort. Two other dogs have also found homes since the program’s inception.

The onsite Westin Dog Samaritans care for the animal during their stay. Resort guests and local residents are welcome to stop by the resort lobby during the day to meet the current adoptable dog.


photos courtesy of hearts speak

HeARTs Speak's Daisy turns up the charm a notch.


Social Animal

Bringing the pets to the people — not the other way around — has proven successful in raising awareness and boosting adoptions too.

Le Chien, the canine fashion show produced by Palm Springs Life as part of Fashion Week El Paseo every March, benefits the Humane Society of the Desert and parades adoptable dogs down the catwalk in chic creations.

Loving All Animals’ annual weekend-long Super Pet Adoption Festival puts adoptable pets front and center in a fun atmosphere. Rowan estimates that this November’s fest will encompass 40 organizations and 500 animals. More than 50 percent of the animals find homes each year, she says.

Animal Samaritans’ Superheroes 5K Run/1K Walk for the Animals in March will also bring in pets from local shelters and rescue groups amid festivities like a superhero costume contest, an animal blessing, working dog activities, raffles, music, and food vendors.


photos courtesy of greater good

ShadowGrey learns to love the camera in this before and after sequence.


Paw-Powered Fundraising

photo courtesy of wooftrax



Help pets in need with the free Walk for a Dog app from WoofTrax. Log in every time you walk your pet and WoofTrax will donate to the shelter or rescue of your choice for each mile recorded. Download for Android or iPhone at www.wooftrax.com





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