Animals need our help. Share the love.

I’ve been involved with rescue programs and photographing animals from the beginning.  Following are a few pictures of the fortunates and tips on how to PHOTOGRAPH ANIMALS.

This creature of beauty is Secretariat’s grandson.  He didn’t make it at the racetrack.  Sometimes these amazing horses are sold for meat.  It’s hard to believe, and it’s true.  Instead, the Owner in California donated him to a program here in Minnesota that helps people overcome self-esteem and other issues.  Go here to find out what you can do to help save these beautiful horses from winding up on a plate.

Thoroughbred. Orono, Minnesota

The Animal Humane Society of Minnesota places 1,000′s of animals every year.  Dogs, Cats, Rabbits, Chickens, Ducks, Ferrets, Rats…you name it.    It’s been proven that pets reduce stress and extend one’s life.  Just having some furry arms wrapped around and that soft nose nuzzling into my neck is all I need.

Peetey was rescued from a kitty mill. He was destined to be stored in a tiny wire cage stacked on top of many other wire cat cages in a small room as a sire for the rest of his life.   These imprisoned cats and dogs go insane.  Wouldn’t you?!  The kitty mill was shut down. Instead, he’s living his life out with a family that loves him — me.

siamese cat

PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:   Natural light is great.  Capitalizing on the golden light around sunrise or sunset, and putting the subject in front of it so it creates a rim of light around the body.  The trick is to be sure the front of the body is lit. Use some fill flash to light the front.

Above:  This rescued dog is a mascot for the Animal Humane Society.  He was abused by the previous owner so terrified of humans. But his new adopted family is giving him lots of play time and rewards for ball retrieval, it’s dog therapy.  He’s appreciated and loved. PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Use a squeeky or crinkley toy, scrumptous treats, or engage him in active play to get your animal subject to relax and behave normally instead of watching the suspicious photographer.


dog, puppy

This puppy was adoptable at the Animal Humane Society for less than 2 days.  Puppies and kittens are much easier to adopt out than mature animals.  But, still there are 1,000′s of unwanted every year.  It’s so important to spay and nueter dogs and cats.  We, humans, domesticated animals for our pleasure and toil long ago. But many have not taken responsibility for their care.  When doing any kind of surgery on an animal, be sure to arrange for a warm home and time to recooperate.

Some amazing people have opened their hearts and homes to animals in need.  Linda & Neil from Green Thumb Farm run a foster care program out of their home.  For dogs mostly, but also cats in need.  Below are two of these rescues. Linda benefits from the overwhelming affection and gratitude these animals pour out to her.  They are well aware she is giving them a chance to survive.

Dog and cat with rescuer

Another exemplary animal rescuer is Mary at  Chicken Run Rescue where 100′s of birds are cared for and re-homed every year.   The recent popular backyard chicken trend is causing trouble.  Especially urban people acquire chickens as cute chicks and then have no safe place for the chickens to live.  Chickens are more delicate than you would think and require a specific type of nutrition and shelter.  Especially during our cold Minnesota winters.   Below:  This starved rooster was the unfortunate victim of a hatchery where they chopped his beak off and imprisoned him in a cage too small for his body to fit.  His feet never touched the ground, he was to be tortured in a cage for his young life until he was big enough to chop up.  He lives with me now. I make him mushy food which he’s able to eat with his half-beak.  He comes when he’s called for sure.


PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:   Some animals take offense to cameras.   Imagine one giant dark eyeball or contraption on the face of an approaching predator.  That would be you – the photographer.  Especially animals that are in protection mode:  rescue animals, roosters, dogs…   Be sure to keep a safe distance and be “polite” with your camera.  Don’t chase or intrude.  This rooster is protecting hens and could turn on a dime to protect his hens.  It’s always the human’s fault.


Horse people frequent barns, and so do kitties.  Unfortunately, many of these barn cats are not fixed and therefore continue to make more kittens.  My friend, Karin, and her barn-mates arranged for the mobile nueter & spay van called MNSnap to visit their barn.  A number of cats were fixed and then horse people volunteered to foster them at home to recover.  Karin brought this sweet pink nosed one home to stay.  PHOTOGRAPHY TIP:  Cats can be elusive.  The best approach is to settle in with your camera around your neck like nothing is about to happen.  Have a cup of tea and wait for kitty to wander out.  Once she/he is comfortable with you there, the picture taking can begin.

rabbit hugged by woman

There are many types of pets.  This rabbit had the good fortune to find her soulmate in this young woman.  She has invited several rabbits into her home.  Two of which have a nuerological disease so they cannot hop, instead they drag their fluffy rabbit bodies. She devised a special home for them so they can move about freely.  Now, that’s bunny love!  PHOTOGRAPHY TIP: Some times all the photographer has is a split second to get the shot, especially with animals.  A fleeting moment when they look your way, or do the thing.  You just have to be ready and have your camera set exactly right when that moment happens.

BEHIND THE SCENES.  A great innovative company in Minnesota, Quality Bike, invites their employees to bring their dogs to work.  How cool is that!  This enables some people to have pets who normally couldn’t with a 9-5 job.

dog at workplace

BEHIND THE SCENES at an Animal Humane Society shoot.   Crave Restaurant in St. Louis Park began a partnering program with the Humane Society; their way of contributing to the community.  Below we are preparing to make a picture of a rescued dog at Crave Restaurant.  We first put a delicious homemade duck dinner in the bowl (left) for the satisfied customer (right).

Dog eating at table

See more success stories photographed by Laurie here:  Animal Humane Society. or go to Laurie’s website:

Following is a list of animal do-gooder links.  Please consider giving back to our beloved animal friends in whatever way you can.  See Laurie’s website for even more links.  The Cloud Horse Foundation  Farm Sanctuary  People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals   Second Chance Rescue Adoptions  Wildlife Rehab Center   Black Hills Wild Horse Sanctuary    Animal Art Rescue Shelter    Unwanted Horse Coalition   Home for Life Animal Sanctuary  Best Friends Animal Sanctuary




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