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Helping Your Local Animal Shelter

Skip Baumhower

A good portrait of a homeless pet waiting for adoption helps potential adopters really see that animal and feel a connection - the first step to a relationship with a new member of the family.  The secret to a great pet portrait, according to Skip Baumhower, is to get down on the animal's eye level, or raise the pet up, so that you get a straight-on view.  My dogs are long gone,  but I am grateful to have a wonderful picture that shows their sweet faces and their personalities.


Some years ago, Skip Baumhower, a professional photographer, took pet portraits at a department store as a fund raiser for the local humane society. I ended up with a great photo of my two dogs and a new friend.

In subsequent years, Skip has volunteered his time to take photos of homeless pets for many animal welfare organizations, capturing the personality of the pets so potential adopters might see the heart and soul of each dog or cat. By using his talents, he has helped untold numbers of shelter animals find new forever homes.

This is National Animal Shelter Appreciation Week, a time to recognize the contributions made by local organizations to our communities by helping to bridge the gap to adoption for millions of abandoned, homeless and stray pets. One way you can help is by adopting a pet from your local shelter - but that’s not the only way.

Like Skip, you might help by doing whatever you do best. Are you good with numbers? Maybe you could help with recordkeeping. Construction skills? You might assist with maintenance projects or shelter improvements. Those with good people skills can help with adoptions. And if, like my friend Skip, you are good with a camera, you can take great close-up portraits of adoptable pets to share on the shelter’s website and on social media.

If you have the heart to help but not the time, perhaps you can make a donation of money – or office supplies, chew toys, pet food, litter, cleaning supplies, paper towels, blankets. Most shelters are happy to provide a list of items they need.

Or you can just spend time with the animals, giving them love and attention, which will make them more adoptable.

If you are in the Tuscaloosa area this weekend and you are looking for a new pet, the Tuscaloosa Metro Animal Shelteris hosting an Adoption Event at PetSmart today from 11 AM until 7 PM, and again tomorrow from Noon until 5 PM. Adoption fees will be only $25. Stop by and see if your new best friend is waiting there for you.

Maybe you can’t buy love, but you can adopt it, when you’re speaking of pets.

Mindy Norton has been “Speaking of Pets” on Alabama Public Radio since 1995.
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