One Picture Saves a Life

One Picture Saves a Life

“When people watch that TV commercial with the sad images and depressing music, they change the channel, but when they see hopeful portraits of adoptable pets full of love and personality, they zip over to the shelter with their family and save a life.”—Seth Casteel
Animal shelters are shrouded in controversy. Often they are portrayed as evil companies that abuse and kill animals. In reality, they are there to save abandoned and lost animals. Limited resources and poor public opinion together make their mission difficult.
Both of my dogs are pound puppies. They are mutts that my family adopted when they were only a couple of months old. My second dog was a surprise adoption—my mom and I had been online browsing the pictures of the animals at the shelter in our city. The pictures were all adorable, and it was hard to resist their little dog faces. I convinced her to visit the shelter the next day, “just to look!” We fell in love with the little dog and adopted him on the spot. Since then, I often have gone to the nearby shelters’ websites to browse the pictures, despite my current inability to adopt a dog.
When dogs are first brought into shelters, they are often just off the street. The animals are dirty and scared, and this shows when you look at them. The shelter employees take a picture of the animal to post to their website, in hopes the owner might be found or a new owner would want to adopt them. Taking a picture for the website right at this moment is unwise because the negative emotions that the animal has come across in the photographs. This poor quality pictures decreases the chance of a potential adopter falling in love with this animal by seeing him or her on the shelter’s website.
The Greater Good organization and photographer Seth Casteel got together to help these animals. They created the initiative One Picture Saves a Life. The program provides the resources to groom and photograph the animals in their best light. The improvement in quality of the pictures increases the chances of that animal getting adopted. One Picture Saves a Life has gone on a tour to various animal shelters to teach the employees how to groom the dogs and take a flattering picture. The initiative has had success; some animals that had been passed over many times were adopted within days of their new picture being posted.
Griffo, M. (2014, February 21). How single photographs are saving the lives of shelter animals across the country. Huffington Post, Retrieved from

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