July 13, 2015

By Dee McMeekan

When a Picture is Worth More than A Thousand Words
He’s probably an incredibly sweet dog, but you’d never know it from his Petfinder picture. We’ve all seen them: in a cage, ears down, tail between their legs, sad eyes. A dog that could complete a family isn’t chosen because he looks like he’ll eat the family.

 

These pups need a little rebranding. As an attorney-turned-pet-photographer, I realized in 2011 that I was the perfect person for the job: The left side of my brain saw a market inefficiency; the right side saw how to help correct it. I knew I wanted to volunteer my time for a shelter, and as a Westhampton Beach native, I knew exactly which shelter I wanted to work with. I’d grown up near Bideawee and as a college student I’d taken my Irish setter there for obedience classes.

When photographing a rescue dog, patience is the key. I can spend upwards of an hour building an abused dog’s trust—but the Bideawee staff and volunteers are the best in the business and the end result is well worth the time commitment. Being able to post a captivating image of a dog drives people to the shelter. Once there, they get to see all the amazing animals available for adoption. Hopefully they’ll find the perfect addition to their family.

I love to be involved with everything from photographing Bideawee’s annual (and wildly popular) weekend fundraiser, Photos with Santa, to visiting every couple of weeks to take the new arrivals’ glamour shots. Working with Bideawee has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. I’ve always been an animal lover (perhaps too much of one; tonight I fed my Pekingese her dinner from a fork), and it pains me to think of how many wonderful dogs are out there waiting to be loved.

One of my favorite success stories is that of Berry, a six-year-old, 80-pound pit bull mix who had been in shelters since he was six months old. Bideawee was desperately trying to place him, but having no luck. In his original photos he may have looked somewhat intimidating, but he was a delightful guy who spent most of his photo shoot trying to play and snuggle with me. I was thrilled to find out that a family had seen his pictures and come to look at him.  After meeting him they couldn’t resist providing him with his new forever home. What can be more rewarding that knowing you helped make that happen?

 



 

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