By Janet McAfee

Communities around our country are revolutionizing their public animal shelters and becoming “No Kill”. A public shelter qualifies as No Kill when they reach a euthanasia rate of less than 10%. The city of Cleveland, in spite of its grim economy, recently became “no kill” without spending additional tax money. It began with a coalition of volunteer animal lovers determined to make a difference, going into the city shelter taking photographs of the animals and posting them on Facebook and Twitter. The Cleveland volunteer organization’s Facebook page now has 6,750 followers, and a 24-hour phone line enables people to begin the adoption process at any time of day or night. Wonderful photographs on Facebook showcase the animals as loving and beautiful creatures.

Coachella Valley residents now have the opportunity to learn from international award-winning shelter photographer Nanette Martin during her return to the Coachella Valley this weekend. During Nanette’s Life Saving Photography workshops, you will learn to take fabulous photos that capture the unique traits of each animal. Great photos help form a connection with prospective adopters and save lives.

Plan now to attend the Life Saving Photography class on Friday, May 31, at the Loving All Animals’ conference room in Palm Desert. The morning session, from 10am to 1:00 pm, focuses on photography techniques including lighting and backdrops. The second workshop, from 2pm to 5pm, includes editing your photos utilizing the FREE downloaded software, Gimp. Participants should bring a laptop or tablet, and of course a camera. You can attend one or both of these workshops, and the cost is only $25 for each. Nanette’s website has more information. Call (760) 834-7000 to register.


I had the pleasure of taking Nanette’s class when she was here in March. Here are some tips that will improve your pet photos. (1) Use a blue background as blue is the only color that does not clash with any color fur. (2) Capture the animal’s eyes, as emotional connections happen through eye contact. (3) Shoot from the animal’s eye level. (4) Use a squeaky toy to get the animal’s attention. Great photos can turn shelter animals, stray animals, and your own pets into superstars.

Once you get great photos, you can create your own flyers to find adoptive homes. Templates are available on and if you need help making flyers. Remember that 90% of your prospective adopters don’t want to hear a sad story, so don’t use guilt, fear or negativity in your biography about the pet. Use action adjectives to positively market the animal.

Don’t write, “5-year-old male Cocker Spaniel, sadly dumped by callous owner, needs new home”. Instead consider, “Meet fabulous Clooney, as handsome as ‘George’! This playful 5-yr-old superstar Spaniel will win your heart with his loving enthusiasm”. The experts are mixed as to whether you should include a human in your shelter pet photo. However, we did include a small insert of George Clooney holding his rescue dog on the adoption flyer of a dog named Clooney. .

Use interesting names that capture the animal’s personality. When you are placing a pair of animals together, give them names that imply they belong together. Bonnie & Clyde, Scarlet & Rhett, Kate & William, Keith Richard & Mick Jagger will get more attention than Buddy & Fido. Whether you need to rehome a cat or dog or adopt a shelter animal, make it interesting and fun! And that winning photograph will capture their hearts.


May 31, Friday – Pet Photography Workshops taught by Nanette Martin, 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. Bring camera. Afternoon session includes photo editing techniques.

Bring laptop or tablet At Loving All Animals’ conference room, 73550 Alessandro, Palm Desert. Reservations call (760) 834-7000. Attend one or

both classes. $25 for each class.

June 1, SatChocolate Truffles & Champagne Brunch at BG Birdgardens in Palm Desert, includes Pet Photography instruction by Nanette Martin. $50 per person.

Reservations required, (760) 834-7000

June 2, Sunday – Shelter Pet Adoption Event – 12:00 noon-4:00pm. Palm Springs Subaru (inside dealership), Highway 111 & Perez, Cathedral City. Animal Care Center of Indio

& Loving All Animals & The Pet Ministry. Come out and find your new best friend!

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