Loving homeless pets like my own + why you should volunteer

I recently decided that my life needed more pets in it. Not because my child, Bailee, isn’t filling my heart with lots of love. Quite the opposite. I have so much love for and from my seven year-old mix that I wanted to help more pets feel and know that love as well.
I adopted Bailee the day before her first birthday, on April 26, 2007.  Most assuredly one of the best days of my life, and I’d like to think hers too. I was entering into my (first) senior year of college, my dad and I had just finished renovating my first house together and I wanted a roommate of the non-human variety. My search began and ended on petfinder.com. Being a full-time college student I knew I was looking for a dog with some obedience training already. Preferably an adult female, medium sized.

Her profile photos captured a glimpse into her funny personality. She was in a foster home so I coordinated a meeting time, filled out the adoption application and brought her home three weeks later.


That was six years ago. Now, like I said, I had recently decided I wanted to love some more pets. But I know I’m in no position financially to adopt more fur-children. So I started thinking about how I could use my talent as a photographer and graphic designer to spread my love of pets to others. That’s when I came across the local Shelter’s volunteer page. So I filled out the Volunteer Application, got an interview and when the Volunteer Coordinator found out I’m not only a professional photographer but also a professional graphic designer, she hired me immediately and I did my first flyer for the Shelter that weekend:

First project with the Shelter, FaceBook cover photo promoting adoption event

One of my objectives for the Shelter is to take better photos of the dogs for their online adoption profiles. Like I said before, Bailee’s photos were okay but she had the flashed-out pupils in all of them and she was just laying down indoors.

Bailee’s petfinder.com profile photo

With the Shelter dogs, we take them outside, give them a fun bandana and let them play with toys during their photo shoot. It doesn’t take long for their personalities to shine. Tilted heads, big smiles or lopsided ears really give potential-parents a good look at these beautiful pets:

Don’t Allie and Ruthie just look adorably adoptable?
I also take two to three dogs on walks each Sunday during the Shelter’s Pack Walk. I can’t tell you how much they love getting to walk with the other dogs over to the local park and back. And it gives us as volunteers an opportunity to begin leash-training them as well.
While I can’t afford another dog right now, I can certainly show these homeless pets how much love is waiting for them once they find their forever homes. I encourage any of you looking into adopting your first, or second or third, pet to 1. Make sure you’re in a position to do so (financially, emotionally, time and housing-situation) and 2. Consider volunteering/fostering instead of or in addition to adopting.

My Bailee was a homeless, shelter dog for two months and then a foster parent had to take her in because her time was out at that shelter. While not all shelter’s have capacity limits or time limits, the majority of city and state-run shelters do. It’s a painful part of it, it sucks, but it’s reality. That’s why I urge you to adopt – don’t shop. “Mixed” breeds do not mean “not perfect.” In fact, I can’t find more examples of “perfect” pets than the ones at shelters.

Bailee’s very own yard!

I have no doubt it’s because of the volunteers involved with Bailee’s adoption that she is the beautiful, loving lady that she was the day I brought her home and still is today.


I hope you can find a volunteer organization worth your passions like I have. It will fill your heart in ways nothing else can.


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