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Books :: Shelter Puppies

I can honestly say, I hope eBooks will never replace the coffee table book. While I know digital picture quality can surpass print quality when it comes to art and images, it’s the cover of a book like this one that will get readers and “non-readers” alike to pick it up and thumb through its pages.

In his newest book, professional pet photographer Michael Kloth helps readers focus on the plight of the “pound puppies,” but without once showing the dark, heart wrenching images we think of when imagining life in “the shelter.” Instead of wire cages and cement floors as scenery, Kloth expertly poses the pups on clean backdrops with plenty of warm, bright light, letting viewers – and prospective owners – see the canine kids at their best. Little puppy personalities fill the pages of this book, and while they are the photographic subject, the real message of this effort is shared in Kloth’s introduction.

While Kloth recognizes there are “valid reasons to buy a puppy from a breeder,” he shares the message of animal advocates in promoting the adoption of shelter and foster animals. He cites research on the number of purebred dogs brought to shelter each year and that, though families may be eager when first purchasing designer-breeds, that excitement may wane when the resulting dogs turn out not to be such a good match.

Kloth volunteers his time each month to visit shelters in his area and photograph pets ready for adoption. The photos are used to help would-be owners find their next family member. Kloth offers helpful advice to shelters and volunteer photographers about ways to present these animals to give them the best chance at adoption. Photographing through wire cages, Kloth tells readers, is a no-no, along with images of the animal backed into the corner of a cage or in any way looking scared. While these may raise the sympathy meter, they don’t tend to help bring out the true, positive characters of the pet.

Kloth’s book features 65 puppies in full color on the main pages with a “follow-up” section in the back about what happened to each of the pups shortly after – most were successfully adopted with only a couple stories of return and retry. Also included are several later follow-up stories of the dogs now in adulthood and the lives they have changed. This is a truly heartwarming and highly educational addition to Kloth’s series on shelter pet books, which I hope he will continue.

I was initially interested in this book because it was promoted as one that donated a portion of the proceeds to the ASPCA. But, when I got the book, I was a bit let down to see that only twenty-five cents per book is donated. While this doesn’t seem like a lot, I relinquished that any amount is a good amount. Further, when reading about how much time, equipment, and resources Kloth devotes to his volunteer work photographing these animals, I understood that a great deal more of whatever he might earn from this book has already been donated through his kindness, and no doubt will continue.

In addition to his work with local shelters, Kloth is also a member of the new non-profit organization called HeARTs Speak. HeARTs Speak was founded with the expectation that visual artists can make a very real difference in helping adoptable animals find homes.

As with all my recommended books, this one makes a great personal or gift purchase, but would also be a good library donation to share with your community, or even purchasing a copy for your local shelter (who might benefit from the photography tips).

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