©Iuliia Kononenko | Getty Images

People Who Help Dogs Find Homes

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The steps it takes for a dog to find his perfect adopted family forces him to rely on a number of different types of loving humans. Sophie Gamand, Lisa Lemieux and Bobby Humphreys are three such people.

The Photographer

Sophie Gamand

French artist Sophie Gamand is known for her poignant images of Pit Bulls in colorful and dreamlike flower crowns. She focused her camera on dogs when she moved to the United States in 2010. Once here, she started taking photos at a vet clinic and met a rescuer who would bring in her fosters. An invitation to take photos of the pups to help them get adopted led Sophie down her current path.

With every step forward, her commitment and passion as an animal advocate was strengthened. After learning about the enormous number of dogs in shelters in the United States, she started photographing 20 to 30 dogs in need of adoption each day. Long hours led her to learn more about the shelter life, of the dogs hoping to be adopted and the finality of those who weren’t. It angered Sophie: “Creating art about this is my coping mechanism,” she explains.

During her sessions, she found that she was fearful around the dogs whose short, muscular frames earned them the label of Pit Bull. Instead of giving in to the tension she felt when a Pit Bull was led in front of her camera, she developed a project that would force her to get to know them better by spending intimate time with them. The Pit Bull Flower Power project was born!

Sophie has “crowned” and photographed around 450 dogs across the United States. The goal was to have the images be a tribute to the numerous lives lost, as dogs identified as Pits are the most euthanized “breed” in the United States. As you look through the collection you find a number of pups who couldn’t help but smile at the thought of Sophie’s touch and a few good-boy treats!

Sophie’s art has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for animal rescues worldwide.

The Volunteer

Lisa Lemieux

Upon her retirement as an educator for 36 years, Lisa Lemieux made the conscious effort to seek out places she could help dogs and other animals, particularly during a time of disaster. To fill that need in her local area of Vermont, she helped establish a local Disaster Animal Response Team (DART).

Through this group, she learned about the Great Danes of New Hampshire. Eighty-four Great Danes were seized from a suspected puppy mill. The Humane Society of the United States was tasked with taking and helping the dogs get to a place where they could be adopted into loving homes. The group sent out word that it was in need of volunteers. Lisa considered the one-and-a-half hour drive from her house short enough to sign up.

She discovered that she could help the HSUS and her local humane society chapter with dogs, cats and even everyday maintenance work. It was a place she could continue to meet her ultimate retirement goal, doing something positive. It was an extra bonus that her work would also help animals.

It is because of her time with the humane society along with the personal experience with her pup, Karma, that Lisa learned a lesson she wanted to share with us. “People tend to overlook those scared, timid, shy dogs, older dogs, dogs with disabilities,” she explains, “ … it is not always the dog that comes up to the front of the kennel who is going to be the best dog.”

The Protector

Bobby Humphrey

Big Guy, Littles World Sanctuary, a place for neglected, abandoned and abused Chihuahuas to get medical help and find safety, is the result of Bobby Humphreys’ personal life journey.

When Bobby’s wife, who also held the titles of co-worker and workout partner, abruptly left him, he broke. He had lost so much and was forced to live through such a traumatic event that he couldn’t see a way out. A friend refused to let him give up, and when she needed someone to watch her son’s dog, a feisty Chihuahua named Lady, Bobby felt obligated to say that the dog could stay with him.

It didn’t take long for the two to become friends, and Lady became Bobby’s savior. Despite having had a number of different “big guy” breeds in his life, he had never met a dog so in tune with human emotions before.

In the search for his own “lady,” he learned about a Chihuahua who needed a family. Their meeting didn’t go well. The tiny pup tried to bite him every time he got near. He was inclined to pass on the dog but then thought that if the pup acted this way around every new person, she would never be adopted. He couldn’t let that happen. He asked for the dog to be put in his car. Within just a few minutes, he was taking pictures of the two of them, dog snuggled up against Bobby, her knight in shining armor.

It continued like that, with each Chihuahua he met seeming to be worse off than the next. With some friends’ pushing, he started the nonprofit sanctuary that is now his life. He funds the project with donations and the profits from its hemp-based dog CBD products. “They have done so much for me,” Bobby says of the tiny dogs, “… I know what it feels like to be abandoned … none of the dogs I come in contact with will ever have to feel that again.”

©Drazen Zigic | Getty Images

Earlier this year, Los Angeles, California, became the largest U.S. no kill city. The label of no kill requires a 90% or better save rate for the animals entering a shelter.

With help from groups like Best Friends Animal Society, which launched the No Kill Los Angeles (NKLA) initiative in 2012, Los Angeles went from a save rate of 56% to over 90% in 2020.

A city getting to “no-kill” status is not an easy task. It requires people, shelters and rescue groups working together to find a way to provide a high quality of life for all homeless animals.

Michelle Sathe, the public relations manager of Best Friends Animal Society, shares some of the ways you can help your city achieve this impressive status.

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

  • Volunteer at a local shelter or rescue
  • Adopt your next pet
  • Foster a pet Spay or neuter your pets
  • Donate to a local shelter or rescue
  • Share about shelters and pets in need on your social channels and ask family and friends to share, as well.

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