Pride is Humane

Today marks the last post in this week’s series from the 2012 Utah Pride parade and festival (if you’ve missed them, start here). It is, therefore, with great pride that I devote today’s post to the wonderful staff and volunteers at the Humane Society of Utah and their presence and participation.

My regular readers know of my commitment to working with HSU to promote pet adoptions and serve adoptable pets through my photography. There are so many ways you can help, too – and many of them don’t require your valuable  time! Please contact or visit HSU to find out what you can do to help.

I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.
― Mother Teresa

Strength lies in differences, not in similarities.
― Stephen R. Covey


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Earl Harris Photography is proud to serve and photograph Utah’s GLBT community and its supporters.

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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Blessings of Love for Your Home

Yesterday, I put in a few hours doing my volunteer photography at the (independent, non-profit) Humane Society of Utah, so don’t be surprised today’s post features cats. I photographed 27 cats; not even half of the total number now available for adoption. If you’re looking for a cat (dog, rabbit, or …) please choose the adoption option and visit your local shelter.

What do you think of the photos? Do they capture anything you would consider reflective of the animal’s character? It is truly important to me that I do this work well.

Here’s a small sampling of the love waiting to bless your home.

Dancer, Kennel 137, Animal ID A054549

Dash, Kennel 108, Animal ID A053418

Fluffers, Kennel 104, Animal ID A054088

Kitty We, Kennel 113, Animal ID A054021

Little Mama, Kennel 104, Animal ID A054087

Londyn, Kennel 108, Animal ID A053419

Marco, Kennel 110, Animal ID A054395

Marley, Kennel 111, Animal ID A053161

Nermal, Kennel 100, Animal ID A054212

Paul, Kennel 132, Animal ID A053199

Shadow, Kennel 115, Animal ID A054156

Zoe, Kennel 139, Animal ID A053840

Egypt, Kennel 107, Animal ID A054143


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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


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.

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“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.





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!

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.