Wednesday, February 2, 2011
As much as I love photographing shelter dogs and helping to give them extra visibility--and perhaps greater chances of adoption--there is a distinct "downside" to this involvement. The animals that need the visibility the most are often the ones at greatest risk of euthanasia...at least at "open" shelters, which are required to take in every animal relinquished by his or her owner or picked up on the streets as a stray. With a seemingly never-ending flow of such unwanted, abandoned animals, this open-door policy means that space is at a premium and animals that have languished, "un-rescued," must make way for the newcomers.
Given this harsh reality, I find myself in utter awe of the dedicated shelter staff who interact with these animals on a daily basis, giving them the best life possible during their window of opportunity for adoption. I don't know how they cope when animals they've gotten to know and maybe even love are euthanized. I know I couldn't.
Which brings me to my current situation.
I recently photographed several dogs at the Prince George's County Shelter in Maryland, an open shelter that takes in some 15,000 animals every year. (In a county with such abysmal intake figures, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that, despite the best efforts of everyone involved, thousands of adoptable animals never make it out alive.)
But I digress...
All of my recent canine models have been adopted, picked up by a concerned owner, or transferred to a rescue organization...except for one. Ajah is still waiting...and her time is running out.
I know full well that thousands of dogs and cats die in shelters every day, and I can't save them all. But having photographed this brindled beauty, I unwittingly established a relationship with her and feel compelled to at least try to save at least this one dog. I look at the images of her bright, smiling face and I can't bear the thought of her death.
So...I'm reaching out wherever and however I can to find Ajah a home, and I beg your assistance...especially if you live in the DC/Maryland/NoVA region. If you can't give Ajah a home, perhaps you know someone you can...or a rescue organization that has room for "just one more." Please spread the word far and wide.
At 2 years old and 57 pounds, Ajah is that perfect mix of age and size: past the puppy nonsense but still full of energy(!) and not too big or too small. She is also already spayed and appears to be housebroken. Her shelter paperwork describes her as a Lab/whippet mix, but given her compact, muscular build, she could just as easily include boxers or terriers in her ancestry. Whatever her genetic mix, she's gorgeous!
Ajah is somewhat timid meeting new people but once she's given some time to relax and get comfortable, she likes nothing better than to sit in your lap, be petted, and give kisses. She doesn't seem too interested in toys at this point...perhaps because she never had any and doesn't understand what they're for (isn't that sad).
Because of her strength, muscular build, and exuberance and energy level, Ajah is looking for a family with a fenced yard and no small children. She'd love a person who can build her confidence, teach her leash manners, and give her the time, attention, and exercise she craves.
If there’s any way you can help this girl, please contact the shelter at 301-780-7200 in reference to Ajah (ID number is 343322) or email Virginia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You have my deepest appreciation.