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Jun 30, 2015 2:45 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Pet Photographer Helps Southampton Town Animal Shelter Find Homes For Dogs

Promise, a pit bull terrier mix available for adoption at the Southampton Animal Shelter. Photo courtesy Shaina Fishman.Photo courtesy Shaina Fishman.
Jun 30, 2015 2:45 PM

For a couple of hours on June 1, the training room at the Southampton Animal Shelter was transformed into a photography studio, complete with a backdrop, bright lights and treats galore.Dogs and a kitten pounced at and posed for the camera as pet photographer Shaina Fishman captured their every move—along with their quirky personalities—in a series of images to be used to help the four-legged creatures find homes.

The 15 dogs and one kitten Ms. Fishman photographed have been at the animal shelter for as long as two years, awaiting the day a family will come in and take them home for good. Ms. Fishman volunteered her time to take pictures after being connected to the shelter through a friend, who knows someone on the shelter’s board of directors. The New York City-based photographer said she wanted to help the animals find homes in her own special way.

“I think everybody should be able to use their skills and their talents as a way to give back to the community,” she said. “It’s something that I can really feel good about, knowing that I can help the animals and the shelter.”

The Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation owns the shelter, which was formerly operated by Southampton Town. The foundation has been using Ms. Fishman’s images on social media to promote the long-time furry residents and give them exposure, according to Katie McEntee, chairperson of the foundation’s junior committee. Ms. McEntee said the foundation jumped at the opportunity to work with Ms. Fishman, as many of the dogs there—especially the pit bulls—are overlooked when people visit in search of a new family member.

“We need to get their faces out more,” Ms. McEntee said. “We can give them all the love and attention, but our goal is to get these dogs into forever homes. We have to work to try to find homes for them.”

Among the dogs photographed is Millie, a 5-year-old American Staffordshire terrier and bulldog mix, who came to the Southampton Animal Shelter from the Dutchess County SPCA in Hyde Park. She loves being around people and going for walks, but would like to be the only pet in her future home.

Dakota, an American bulldog mix, is almost 2 years old and was transferred from the Hempstead Town Animal Shelter. She is nervous around other dogs but is learning to adjust.

Nine-year-old Promise is a pit bull terrier mix who ended up at the shelter because her former owner could no longer care for her. Like Millie, she would prefer to be the only dog in her next home, according to the shelter.

With her camera and gear in tow, Ms. Fishman had driven out to Hampton Bays from Brooklyn on June 1 for her first photography assignment in the Hamptons—one that involved lots of wagging tails and sloppy kisses. Once a fashion photographer, Ms. Fishman switched over to photographing pets about eight years ago after realizing that she enjoyed photographing her papillon, Cosmo, along with others dogs at parks in New York City, more than she did taking pictures of models in designer dresses.

Ms. Fishman said visiting the shelter proved to be a fun experience, as the dogs were happy and friendly. As with all dogs, photographing them required a lot of patience—and it paid off: Ms. McEntee said the shelter has received many inquiries about the animals that were photographed, although there have been no adoptions just yet.

Ms. Fishman said she hopes to work with the Southampton Animal Shelter in the future and make photographing the animals there “a semi-regular thing, because I do think the shelter is doing really great stuff.

“The dogs are really wonderful. I’ve been to many shelters, and it can be really hard and really sad,” she said. “But walking through there and seeing the dogs, they really seemed well-taken-care-of. I really felt the dedication the facility had toward the dogs.”

For more information about adopting a dog or cat from the Southampton Animal Shelter, visit southamptonanimalshelter.com, or call (631) 728-PETS. To view more of Shaina Fishman’s work, visit shainafishman.com.

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