shelter pets

Perhaps It’s Not Your Most Flattering Look

One of the things I really love about photographing cats is their unpredictability. They can go from nervous to calm faster than your top flash sync speed, but more often it’s the other direction they’re traveling. Cats – at least house cats, anyway – tend to flick their tongues in and out quite a bit when they are nervous. Often it is this action that lets me know I need to spend more time with the animal, ensuring we are comfortable together so I can get the shot I want.

As a result of my volunteer work photographing cats for the Humane Society of Utah, I have dozens of photos of cats with their tongues sticking out. I’m thinking that one day I’ll create a rather large collage out of them.

Nikon D200, ISO 200, 1/60 sec at f/2.8, 50 mm

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Happy Caturday!

There are lots and lots of cats and kittens at the community-funded Humane Society of Utah (4242 South 300 West, Murray, UT 84107). Here’s a small sampling of the furry friends waiting to share happiness in a forever home with you.

“Pepper”, Kennel 109, Animal ID A055879
Spend a few minutes and fall in love

“Thomas”, Kennel 125, Animal ID A054342
A big ball of love with a great personality

“Turtle”, Kennel 122, Animal ID A055774
One curious cool cat

“Toola Roola”, Kennel 116, Animal ID A056034
It was hard to put this one back in the kennel…

“Rob”, Kennel 132, Animal ID A054852
Not only super friendly but really beautiful, too

“Mr. Kit”, Kennel 115, Animal ID A055424
Great personality and really beautiful markings/coloring give this guy a lot of charm

“Jupiter”, Kennel 140, Animal ID A055964
A curious and cute little cuddler

“Conan”, Kennel 119, Animal ID A056093
A big orange talker

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Regardless of where you live, please share this post with others to help find loving homes for these cats. You may know someone who knows someone who lives in Utah. The cats thank you for your help.

Refuge from the Misery of Life

There are two means of refuge from the misery of life –
music and cats.

– Albert Schweitzer

The Humane Society of Utah has some beautiful cats currently available for adoption. Here are just a few of the wonderful animals I photographed yesterday. If you are looking for a feline companion in the Salt Lake City, UT area, these guys would be so grateful if you’d come by and get acquainted.

Don’t shop; adopt!

Sebian, Kennel 108, Animal ID #A055175
This boy loves to love ya, baby! And who can resist those beautiful blue eyes?

Abbie has beautiful coloring, personality, and is waiting for you in Kennel 113. Her animal ID is A054997.

“Loki” must translate to “sweet” in this case, because this little one is more of a lover than a trickster. You can find Loki in kennel 106. Her animal ID is A026666.

Thomas didn’t want his picture taken; he just wanted to lay in my lap and snuggle! He’ll snuggle with you, too, when you stop by kennel 125 to say hello. His animal ID is A054342.

Please forgive me for getting personal for a moment, but I’d like to ask for your prayers for my grandmother, Phyllis, who is 99. While I was taking the photos used in today’s post, I learned she had fallen and broken her hip and shoulder after apparently suffering a heart attack. She is in hospital in critical condition, facing surgery today. Thank you and God bless!

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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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Angels (with Whiskers)

Kittens are angels with whiskers.
~Author Unknown

Nikon D200, ISO 400, 1/60 s at f/2.8, 50 mm, fill flash

A catless writer is almost inconceivable. It’s a perverse taste, really, since it would be easier to write with a herd of buffalo in the room than even one cat; they make nests in the notes and bite the end of the pen and walk on the typewriter keys.
~Barbara Holland

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OK, OK… I’ll get off the animal kick I’ve subjected my readers to over the last week, but today was my volunteer day taking photos at the shelter. You’ve got to admit this little guy is the cutest.

Thanks for stopping by I Shutter At The Thought! (Please tell your friends by sharing using one or more of the buttons below.) Your comments and feedback help me improve my skills, so I hope you’ll let me know what you think of today’s photo.

It’s Probably Not What You Think Of

I usually try to keep my posts brief. Today I failed. 😛

Last November, I began volunteering at the Humane Society of Utah (HSU) as a photographer. You may or may not know that it has been repeatedly shown that the increase of adoption rates for animals with good, flattering photos is very significant. Out of a handful of photographers that volunteer, I’m the only one that isn’t allergic to cats, so guess where my efforts are focused? 🙂

I have learned a great deal since I started volunteering. Being an independent community-based and funded non-profit organization, HSU has a lot of challenges. Its name may lead you to assume an affiliation with the Humane Society of the United States, but no such affiliation exists. HSU survives on community donations, a skeleton staff and volunteer assistance. A recent expansion and construction project is giving the facility some badly needed space, while the animals will enjoy some major housing upgrades.

I strongly believe that every shelter should be a no-kill shelter. While progress is being made in this direction, this dream has a long way to go before becoming a reality. HSU has not euthanized an adoptable dog in over 3 years. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the cats. Despite mobile adoption programs, partnerships with retail stores to host staffed displays of animals available for adoption and on-going community outreach efforts, the facility simply cannot house forever the unsettling number of cats it receives. Alexandra, a beautiful solid black female with an attitude, has been at the shelter since I started volunteering. After more than 6 months, she has no known prospects of finding a forever home.

Unfortunately, when people think of an animal shelter, too often they get an image in their mind of a pet death camp. This distortion of the truth is founded on some very real horrors, but the distortion comes when we assume those horrors occur in every shelter facility. Because of this errant perception, I decided to use my camera to bring to mind the good things about a reputable, caring shelter. With one obvious exception, the photographs I took were unstaged and simply captured what was happening around me.

I obtained permission to photograph in the HSU clinic, which provides low-cost medical care and spay and neuter services. I was so very impressed with the compassion shown to the animals receiving care. The caregivers here really are angels – while I love animals, I don’t have the emotional strength to endure what these folks must endure every day. To do what they do with the love and care with which they do is to me an awesome, admirable and honorable thing.

Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/6.3 at 1/1000 sec, 22 mm

The HSU clinic provides expert care, ranging from vaccinations and spay and neuter procedures to life-saving surgeries.

Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/11 at 1/60 sec, 52 mm

Unaware of being photographed, this caregiver’s interaction with a sick cat truly yanked at my heart strings. Notice the expressions on both of their faces: there was communication of a higher level happening here.

Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/6.3 at 1/1000 sec, 22 mm

HSU services go far beyond just housing adoptable pets. These volunteers were really good sports about helping to
communicate that visually.

Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/4.0 at 1/2000 sec, 32 mm

While the above shot was not staged, this beautiful canine clinic patient insisted on taking a moment out from her walk to pose and check out the guy with the camera.

Nikon D300, ISO 400, f/13 at 1/500 sec, 45 mm

Family members that volunteer together build relationships with the animals and each other.

Nikon D300, ISO 400, f/13 at 1/60 sec, 45 mm

In the end, it’s up to you. If you’re looking for a pet, please choose the adoption option. You’ll probably be quite surprised by the variety of animals and breeds available at your local shelter.

I commend HSU for all it does and for the way it does it. If you live in the area and are interested in volunteering, please contact Jamie Usry, HSU’s volunteer coordinator. Volunteering is on your own terms – do what you can when you can. There is a permanent link to the HSU website located under “Links” on this blog. You can also help through donations of cat, dog and rabbit food, cat litter (the clumping variety only, please), towels, blankets, newspaper, animal-safe toys, and of course cash.

Thank you to Jamie Usry and the HSU staff members and volunteers that made this blog post possible!

P.S.: Live local? Like cats? Like photography and the idea of volunteering your skills? Please contact me!

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A Few Catty Remarks

Cats are smarter than dogs. You can’t get eight cats to pull a sled through the snow.
— Jeff Valdez

A man who carries a cat by the tail learns something he can learn in no other way.
— Mark Twain

Anyone who considers protocol unimportant has never dealt with a cat.
— Robert Heinlein

Everything I know I learned from my cat:
When you’re hungry, eat.
When you’re tired, nap in a sunbeam.

When you go to the vet’s, pee on your owner.
— Gary Smith

Photography greeting card purchases from EarlHarrisPhotography.com help fund
animal rescue and shelter efforts.

Positive Reinforcement!

Today, while taking photos of the cats at the shelter, I got to hear two young women ask to see a specific cat by name that they had seen in the HSU website’s cat listings. It was Pepper, a rather large and friendly 3 1/2 year-old male Tabby I had photographed last weekend. After visiting with him for a while, they were excited to take him home!

For the record, this made me feel all warm and furry inside… It gives me hope that my photos are helping to make a difference finding forever homes for these wonderful cats.

You can see Pepper’s “before” and “after” shots below.

Before: Pepper's "intake" mugshot as originally pictured on his kennel card and on the HSU website

After: While it shows that Pepper wasn't amused by my picture taking efforts, he still ended up looking lots better than he did in his intake photo!

“Fe-lines, whoa, whoa, whoa, Fe-lines…”

Lacking the time to prepare a proper post, I thought I’d share a few of the adorable faces I got to photograph this week at the Humane Society of Utah! Each is available for adoption and has already been spayed or neutered. See all the cats available for adoption at http://utahhumane.org

Gorgeous Sansa is a Snowshoe, and is about 1.5 years old. She has beautiful blue eyes.

Really regal Romeo!

Toro was born in Japan. His owners of 8 years were heartbroken to have to give him up. He needs the comfort of a familiar setting and human contact. He looks like my Seamus, too!

Fun and friendly Tommy.

Gina: Cute beyond cute!

This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen

I hate it when I lie to myself! Especially when I have no idea that I’m telling a lie!

You may recall that part of my decision to volunteer at the Humane Society of Utah was that I would only work with dogs. (Click here to see the older post.) I concluded that avoiding the cats would make it much easier to avoid wanting to take them all home, etc., etc.). I have really enjoyed spending time with the dogs – and I’m so happy to report that Jack finally got adopted!

It took a little longer than I had hoped to get the opportunity to work with another photographer to get tips and instructions on photographing the dogs, but that finally happened in December. That’s also when I first began to face the possibility that I had told a lie to myself and all my blog readers.

To make a long story short, it was through conversations with the other photographers and HSU’s volunteer coordinator, Jamie, that I became certain of my self-deception. How’s this for evidence of my close relationship with Murphy’s Law? Out of all 5 volunteer photographers, none of them are able to work with the cats because of allergies, etc. This means no cats are getting decent photos posted on the HSU website, which means that the cats aren’t getting the boost in adoption rates that good photos have been proven to bring about (read more about that here).

So, I stewed about it off and on over the entire 9 days I spent with family in Florida over the holidays. Somebody needed to do this job. Somebody had to help the cats; there were already 4 other photographers taking photos of adoptable dogs at HSU. And there are so many beautiful cats available for adoption. So, so many.

Yeah, I know it’s pointless for me to waste your time with details. So here’s a few of the 15 adoptable kitties I photographed on Monday. And that’s only a small fraction of the fabulous felines waiting for you to drop by the Murray HSU facility, fall in love, and take them into your loving homes.

Sushi

Athens

Oklie

Max

Time for me to get busy rigging up a cat-friendly portable background setup I can easily use at the shelter… and wash/defur between uses!