“Rescue dogs are such forgiving souls,” Suzanne Donaldson tells me. The photography expert and animal lover, who also goes by the moniker Mrs. Sizzle, recently teamed up with Social Tees Animal Rescue and the photographer Shayan Asgharnia to share the stories of nineteen of these souls, all of whom have since traveled from Los Angeles high-kill shelters to New York City, where they have a second chance to be fostered and adopted into loving homes. Donaldson and Asgharnia were able to visit dogs of all ages, who, despite having been abandoned and left behind, embodied that forgiving spirit.
Take Alvin, a senior chihuahua who faced the possibility of euthanasia until Social Tees intervened. “Alvin is a very sweet boy,” Samantha Brody, co-director of the rescue, says. “He’s not shy upon meeting new people and instead wanted to be right up against the bars of his cage, hoping one of us would put our hands in and pet him to reassure him. He’s the kind of dog that just wants someone to be his person so he can sit in their lap or next to them and snooze the day away.”
During the shoot, Donaldson and one of her friends were on hand to hold and comfort any dog who seemed lonely or worried throughout the process. These moments of bonding were healing for the humans as well as the dogs on set. “Being around a dog is therapeutic to me,” Asgharnia tells me. “That moment when you’ve earned the trust of those innocent lives and can show them kindness and love they’re unaccustomed to receiving is a beautiful moment between living beings.” He and a dog named Nutmeg forged a friendship, and at one point, the dog nuzzled the photographer as he lay on the floor.
In one day, Donaldson and Asgharnia were able to experience a taste of the love and trust of these nineteen dogs, and once they are adopted, these animals will spend a lifetime sharing those gifts with someone else. The photographs will help them get there. “I have been working as an animal advocate for some time now, and the chances of their being adopted is tenfold when the pictures are good,” Donaldson adds. “If you are a photographer who loves dogs and are inclined, reach out to the rescue organization of your choice and offer up your services. These dogs/cats will thank you for it!”
Tragically, millions of dogs are euthanized in shelters each year because they do not find fosters, adopters, or rescue placement. You can help by spaying and neutering and choosing adoption. Visit your local shelter or rescue. “One myth to dispel is that you are doing the right thing by buying a puppy,” Donaldson explains. “This is an egregious act and only promotes puppy mills.” If you are in New York, you can fill out an adoption application with Social Tees today. You can also donate to support their live-saving work here. Follow along at @socialteesnyc, @mrssizzle, and @shayanhathaway on Instagram for updates.
All images © Shayan Asgharnia