Animal Shelters

Take Me Home

My regular readers know that I try to volunteer once a week taking photos of the cats at the Humane Society of Utah. I’m always so impressed by the beautiful animals available for adoption. In tandem, I tend to devote a blog post to the cats, featuring photos of some of those currently waiting for loving, forever homes. I hope you enjoy viewing them.

Warm and friendly “Georgie” – Nikon D200, ISO 100, 1/60 sec at f/2.8

“Sasha” the loving lap cat – Nikon D200, ISO 100, 1/60 sec at f/2.2

Personable “Auri” – Nikon D200, ISO 100, 1/60 sec at f/1.8

Curious “Tommy” – Nikon D200, ISO 100, 1/60 sec at f/2.2

Playful “Finn” – Nikon D200, ISO 100, 1/60 sec at f/2.2

Sweet little “Luna” – Nikon D200, ISO 100, 1/60 sec at f/2.5

Contact me for information about in-home pet portraiture in Salt Lake City and surrounding areas.


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Salt Lake City Street Art

You don’t have to go to a museum to see a city’s art. The works that best represent a particular locale are often, quite literally, right under your feet. I photographed the artwork pictured here within a single downtown Salt Lake City block, representing styles ranging from crude to accomplished.

Simply because these works aren’t hanging in a museum or framed on a wall makes them less likely to get recognized as art. How come a painting on a sidewalk instead of a canvas automatically gets demoted from “art” to “nuisance graffiti” in the minds of the majority?

Like it or not, your city is a canvas. It is a place where seemingly unrelated movements, elements, shapes and colors come together to form a tangible image – a picture of its inhabitants. Some choose to add to this canvas knowing that their contribution will be as transient and temporary as the inhabitants are themselves.

Nikon D300, ISO 200, f/22 at 1/60 sec, 78 mm

Nikon D300, ISO 200, f/20 at 1/40 sec, 98mm

Nikon D300, ISO 200, f/14 at 1/60 sec, 30 mm


Your greeting card purchases from help fund pet rescue and shelter efforts. The animals and I thank you.

Depending On Community for Survival

Sometimes there are ways to help that may seem too simple or insignificant, but in reality they make a huge difference!

  • That newspaper you read every day and (hopefully) toss in your recycle bin is critical to someone’s comfort, yet you throw it away.
  • Those old, worn towels and blankets you either don’t know what to do with, or tear apart to make rags could instead be helping someone feel safe and protected.

It’s true. In almost every US town or city with a significant population, there are hundreds for whom something as simple and available to most as newspapers, old towels and blankets can equate to comfort, safety and protection. Who are they? They are the scared, confused and often abandoned, ill or injured animals in our not-for-profit community shelters.

Ultimately, they are there because of us. We didn’t spay or neuter and ended up with unwanted kittens or puppies. We got a pet for Christmas, not realizing the full scope of the responsibility we were taking on. We ended up being allergic. We are scared for the animal to be around our newborn baby. The landlord said it had to go. We didn’t realize the expense involved in owning a pet. The list goes on and on. Are you getting it?

Shelters need lots of newspaper to line the small dog kennels and small animal cages and to absorb any mishaps of nature that may occur. A blanket or towel given to a new arrival can give them something to hide in or under, something to curl up with and feel safe. Not to mention the amount of towels needed to keep the animals washed and groomed. And old towels can also be used to clean kennels.

So if you want to help, but can’t afford the time to volunteer or the money to donate, can’t you at least take a few minutes to drop off a few things you thought were trash? Most shelters, if not open when you arrive, would even be happy for you to leave your donation (protected from the weather) by the front door!

Finally, if you are ready to take on the responsibilities that come with owning a pet, the kindest and most wonderful thing you can do for your shelter and its animals is adopt one of the pets in their care. You would probably be amazed at the variety, the breeds, and the array of animal personalities you will find at a shelter!

Choose the Adoption Option!

Start making a difference today!

I welcome your comments!

You Don’t Know Jack

I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, but I have been very busy and have lots to tell! Stay tuned; I promise new posts are coming about my exploits at the Humane Society of Utah in Murray (I’m lovin’ it!) and other new directions.

Meanwhile, Jack is still at the shelter and needs to find a forever home. He’s a wonderful Jack Russell Terrier, but he’s not meant for a home with cats or small kids. I really love this dog, and he’d love you, too! He likes to play, fetch, is very personable and companionable… The only thing other than a tolerance for small kids and cats that he’s missing is YOU! Please help spread the word and let’s find Jack a home!! (And a more original name!!)

Jack the Jack Russell desperately needs a forever home!

HSU Volunteer Dog Training Completed!

I really enjoyed the Humane Society of Utah volunteer training I completed today! I have, as mentioned in my last post, chosen to work with dogs. Today I learned the basics of HSU dog handling procedures, and got the opportunity to walk a few dogs, too.

HSU houses small dogs separate from large dogs. When I arrived and met my trainer, Michelle, she had just put two small poodle-ish looking dogs on leashes and was getting ready to take them for a walk. It was the perfect opportunity to introduce the rules for walking small dogs!

There is a fenced in area where the small dogs are walked, which encompasses the main guest parking area and a large grassy area. As we strolled along, each of us with a dog, Michelle explained some of the basic procedures and answered my questions. After being out with the dogs for about 10 – 15 minutes, we took them back inside and put them in their kennel (they were kennel mates).

Michelle then gave me the nickel tour of the facility, showing me where to find supplies, the kitchen, and laundry room. And there’s a lot of laundry! HSU relies heavily on donations of old or new blankets and towels. Among other uses, towels are essential for drying animals off after bathing. Blankets are often put in with the animals to give them extra warmth and comfort. They also go through a tremendous amount of newspaper, used as kennel liner and thus requiring

HSU needs your donations of towels, blankets and newspaper! If you’re an area resident, consider HSU as an alternative to newspaper recycling! If you know me or see me routinely, you can give any such donations to me for delivery to HSU.

Next, Michelle took me into the large dog kennel area. After explaining some rules for handling the large dogs, I met Lulu. What a sweetheart! The dogs love it when they get extra time outside, so Lulu was happy for another opportunity to go out. There are large fenced in runs that enable the bigger dogs to run free and without a leash. Michelle showed me the proper procedures, and Lulu quickly began to show her personality! In the 15 minutes or so I spent with Lulu, she showed off her ability to jump up on the visitor’s bench inside the run and to sit proudly at attention. She also taught me that she liked being scratched under the chin, was very much a “people pet”, and would fetch a ball. And she had a gorgeous face!

Update!! Lulu found a new Forever Home on Tuesday, 11/29! Congratulations, Lulu!

After returning Lulu to the kennel she shares with her kennel mate, Michelle completed what remained of my training. That done, I decided to walk a few more dogs!

So, after sanitizing my hands (a must-do between animals), I headed back to the small dog area and introduced myself to Johnny — a Jack Russell terrier. Actually, it would be more accurate to say Johnny introduced himself by a demonstration of his determination to be noticed! Opening his kennel as Michelle had shown me, I slipped on the leash and Johnny and I walked through the lobby and out the front door.

At that point things changed: Johnny began to walk me! It didn’t take me long to get the hang of it, though — remember, I am the one who was doing all the learning here! I’ve walked my parent’s Dachshund many times, but Rusty doesn’t have near the amount of energy of a Jack Russell! Johnny was fun, and I enjoyed his upbeat energy.

And then I moved on to Jack, and Jack was a joy! Another terrier, Jack was ready and happy to go outside. Slipping on the leash, we walked calmly through the lobby, out the front door, and into the grassy area. Grabbing a few “poo bags” from the dispenser to shove in my pocket, Jack and I started our walk. Jack didn’t pull on the leash, trying to walk me, like Johnny had! Jack walked at the same pace I did, so I thought it would be interesting to see if Jack liked to run. Commencing a slow jog, Jack was right there with me, excited to have the opportunity to run (even if with an aging non-runner!). Impressed with Jack, I knelt down on the grass where I was quickly met with an exuberance of warm, canine charm. Eventually we came to a bench, and I decided to sit down. Jack jumped up beside me, where he appreciatively accepted being petted and having his ears rubbed. It wasn’t long before he was half-in and half-out of my lap!

Jack - Very social, friendly and fond of human contact!

After spending about 15 minutes with Jack, we headed back inside. I don’t know much about dogs; as I’ve mentioned, I’m a cat person. But Jack impressed me;  he was obviously a dog that enjoyed companionship. As I got him back inside and to his kennel, I noticed a young man and his family checking out Johnny. I took the opportunity to tell them about the few minutes I’d spent with Johnny before taking out Jack, and as I left they were deciding among themselves if they wanted to take a closer look at him. I hope they did.

I think I will enjoy “going to the dogs” as an HSU volunteer!


A New Journey in Volunteering

HSU is not affilliated with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS)

Having completed my orientation last weekend, this afternoon at 2 PM, I will attend training to work with dogs at the Humane Society of Utah. I’ve chosen to work with dogs because I’m a cat owner who is also quite fond of their canine counterparts.

Not affiliated with the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society of Utah is a not-for-profit shelter supported solely by community donations and volunteers. Founded in 1960, the Humane Society of Utah (HSU) has been in their current building since 1993. They are now undergoing a very significant expansion of their space, which will include an area where cats are able to be socialized together in “cat colonies” not requiring them to be individually caged. A large new dog wing is also part of the facility expansion.

Approximately 150 animals are available for adoption each day. HSU uses area adoption events to help promote animal adoption rates, and handles around 1,000 animals each month. To me, this latter number is both astounding and disturbing! They have an open admissions policy, meaning they will take any animal brought in to them, even if you can’t pay the token surrender fee requested.

New west wing construction at the HSU facility in Murray

According to Jamie Usry, Volunteer & Special Events Manager, HSU sees themselves as a “last resort option.” Because of their donation-based funding model, they are not able to support the large volume of animals surrendered to them and maintain a no-kill shelter status. However, they do adopt out around 80% of the animals they receive, and have not euthanized an adoptable dog in 3 years. Cats, Jamie was sad to say, have not been so lucky.

Please spay or neuter your pets!
Cat owners: If you must have kittens, take the adoption option!

HSU has wisely made volunteering very easy. There are no scheduled shifts, hours, etc. Feel like stopping in on a lunch break or after work and walking a couple of dogs? Great! Able to spend an afternoon washing dogs? They’d love to have you! Prefer to cozy up in the corner or play with a few cats when time permits? They’ve got you covered. Jamie said that volunteer hours have a high impact on monthly donations, so the higher the number of volunteer hours each month, the more likely they are to receive larger donations of support. It’s a not-for-profit fact of life: People are more inclined to give money to causes they see others are willing to volunteering their time and support.

New east wing construction at the HSU facility in Murray

I was also happy to learn HSU is against breed legislation. Pit bull bans, currently in effect in South Jordan and proposed for Taylorsville, can require responsible owners who have raised gentle, loving family pets to surrender their dogs, typically to be euthanized. I highly question the existence of “problem dog breeds”; I am more inclined to believe that callous and uncaring people often get these dogs solely because they want to own a “bad ass” dog, and there are breeds with a reputation we have created for being easily trained to fight or be aggressive.

I’m excited to get the training done so I can begin working with the animals! I’ll let you know all about it as things progress; I’m sure my eyes will be opened in many new and meaningful ways, some pleasant and others emotionally painful.

Stay tuned.


Have you had an experience volunteering with HSU? I’d love to
hear about it! Please leave your comments below.