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published: Friday, April 20, 2012
TAVARES | SAVING GOD'S CREATURES
Animal Control uses photo shoots to showcase pets
ROXANNE BROWN | Staff Writer
Lake County Director of Animal Services Marjorie Boyd jokes to people about one of the facility's bathrooms turned photo booth.
"We call it our little 'glamour shots' studio," Boyd said.
In theory, that's just what it is, too, since Boyd, members of her staff and volunteers have included some of the pets available for adoption in photo shoots aimed at finding them a home.
The shoots, Boyd said, are taken using various backdrops, props, outfits and accessories donated to the shelter for the cause.
Boyd said the animals are taken out of the kennel environment, cleaned up, dressed up and photographed in a way that hopefully will not only tug at the heartstrings of prospective adoptive families, but also show that the animals -- though at Animal Services -- still make for good pets.
"You take an animal out of the kennel setting and into a more homey looking environment and it makes a huge difference," Boyd said. "People see a dog or cat in a cute little bandana, sitting on the floor playing with a squeaky toy, or maybe another in a basket or wagon or wrapped in a blanket and they can relate to it."
"They can imagine the animal as their own pet in their own house doing the same thing."
Boyd said the photo shoots have been part of the adoption process now since last fall.
Around the holidays, she said some of the animals were even photographed in Christmas outfits.
Since then, adoptions have soared.
Boyd said she is happy about that, but surprised at how long the shoots take, since there's a trick to getting an animal to behave and sit still long enough to be photographed.
Boyd and some of her other staff members have become pretty good at it though, she said.
Volunteers are also welcome to refine their animal photographing skills by donating time and effort to take pictures of the animals, as well. All one needs to do is set it up with Boyd, bring their cameras, come down and click away.
"We have some volunteers who take wonderful photos of the animals," Kennel Tech Raegan Ivers said. "Some have some great equipment and are so professional. We would love it if there were more volunteers willing to help us out."
Boyd said it's sometimes hard for staff to do the pictures themselves, because it seems like that by the time they get photos taken, downloaded and posted on the website, most of those pets usually get adopted quickly.
And since it's impossible to take pictures of all the 18,000-20,000 animals that come through Animal Services each year, they hope the 40-50 pictures they can get taken each week provide a small overviews of the types of animals that come in.
Boyd said the more the better because adoptive parents, once they see exactly what they want and get their heart set on a possible addition to their families, seem to do whatever it takes.
People from as far away as Missouri, Texas and Indiana have adopted from Animal Services, even purchasing plane tickets for their animal's transport, Boyd said.
"The pictures are time consuming but it's proven worthwhile for our animals," she said.
People interested in viewing pictures of some of the animals available for adoption at Animal Services can visit www.lakecountyfl.gov, click on "adopt a pet," and get ready to let out a big "awwwww." Animals pictures are separated by three categories: "dogs," "cats," and "other."
For more information, call 352-343-9688.