Thursday, March 17, 2016

Focus on the Saves

Tied to a pole and surrounded by water, the lone pit bull mix stood proud while eagerly looking at the people. Scattered in the stagnant waters, bloated and lifeless, humans floated face down. Nanette focused on the dog. Its fate was gloomy and she noticed others while out on the waters with the National Guard.

"We'll come back and get the dogs," said the National Guardsman to Nanette.

He lied.

Hurricane Katrina ravaged Louisiana in 2005, leaving a powerful wake of death, destruction and homelessness. While on assignment for People magazine, award winning editorial photographer Nanette Martin witnessed Katrina's devastation. Images of the abandoned animals troubled Nanette and weeks later, after learning the animals were ignored, she grabbed her camera and returned to New Orleans to help however she could. 

She did the same on 911. The tragedy propelled her to New York City with her camera in tow. Unassuming and a having a heart of gold, first responders embraced her and brought her into areas where the media was not allowed. With her camera whirring, she kept taking pictures of the hell she encountered. 

Likewise, seeing the pain and suffering in Katrina's aftermath, she captured memories with each press on the camera's button. But, something grabbed her attention and tugged on her heart strings--loads and loads of homeless and/or unwanted pets.  Different agencies were there to offer help and Nanette stood nearby with camera in hand.

A group of rescued dogs were preparing to be transported to Atlanta from New Orleans and Nanette's camera captured each animal's unique spirit. Those pictures were sent ahead of the delivery and proved invaluable as they had been posted online and nearly every dog was adopted prior to their arrival in Atlanta.

A seed was planted.

Typical rescue photographs are generic and unflattering, but Nanette's photography makes the animals shine. With her caring heart and belief that she was doing the right thing, Nanette focused her efforts to use her camera to help save lives in rescue shelters and started Shelter Me Photography in 2009.

Since then, her non-profit has photographed over 9,000 animals in 75 shelters scattered in 16 states.

In talking to Nanette about her rescue efforts, I mentioned how heartbreaking it must be knowing, despite her valiant efforts, that many of the animals she photographs are still euthanized.

"I have to focus on the saves," was her sincere reply.

The odds of escaping death row are tough in a shelter, and even more bleak for dog with special needs. Zulu is definitely a save!

Shelter Me Photography is a non-profit who runs on the generosity of others.  I have no doubt Nanette survives on a shoe string budget as she puts others' welfare in front of her own as I learned how her adopted cat sustained a severe head injury where most people would have put it down. Not Nanette.  She swallowed the $4,000 vet bill, determined to later find a way to pay for it, and now has the company of a healed and devoted friend at her house.

This non-profit is genuine and I guarantee your donations are not squandered as I beleive if Nanette won $1 million dollars, $999,990 would be distributed by her generosity with the remaining $10 maybe being used to treat herself to a luxurious beverage at Starbucks. 

On second thought, that $10 would feed a rescue animal and she'd spend it on the animal instead.

Nanette is a treasure. Her website is worth visiting as is her non-profit's Facebook page that is up to date.  Check out her magical photography of dogs, cats, rabbits and even a hedgehog. Perhaps her story will stir some visceral emotions and move you to donate some money to help finance her mighty efforts.


I'm going to quietly tuck this in right here. Time having fun and fiddling around with this blog is scarce and I'm now in full gear on a writing project where I recognize it may be awhile before I pound out another post.  I like that the timing to stall on my blog has coincided on Nanette's post since it may bring in a few extra readers to learn about her specialty.  Thanks to everyone who takes time out of their day to visit and read!   I'll be back in a while. Cheers!

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