When I first met BarkBox co-founders Henrik, Carly and Matt, we decided to work on a dog rescue project together. They gave me a challenge, “How do we get $10,000 and make sure that money makes a huge difference in the lives of dogs in need?” We had a bunch of ideas, but just couldn’t decide on a single project.
She suggested we ask the dog-loving community, “How do you spend $10,000 and make such a big difference?” We’ve taken the main ideas and let our community vote on Facebook. The winner was HeARTs Speak, which proposed a project that would not only train volunteers and staff to take great photos, but also how to better promote animals along the way. The project involved training him for the shelters, providing him with a cool camera, backgrounds, lighting, and photo editing software—everything they needed to get these dogs into great photos! We were thrilled to be funding this project.
A few months later, HeARTs Speak held its own contest and let the community vote on which shelters needed this award the most. We sat here in Manhattan’s Chinatown, and watched our city’s animal care and control shelter up the votes for the win! I was so excited to see this award being used here in New York City.
Two weeks later, I was in the same place—only this time watching six professional photographers work with about a dozen volunteers and staff, all working together to get the right lighting, composition, and emotion from a dog in need. His name was Bruno. He had a big block head, and an even bigger smile – one of my favorite kind of dogs! He was stocky, brindle, happy, goofy and loving. The staff at the shelter said he was in danger and needed help to get out of there.
The next week, sitting at home with Troy bumbling next to me, I opened an email from Lisa from HeARTs Speak, telling me the session was a great success and they were going to Philadelphia next time! and “Oh yeah!” She couldn’t leave the shelter without Bruno. She brought him home with her where he got along with her, chickens, goats, horses and other dogs and children, and is now in a loving foster home in Stockbridge, Massachusetts until he finds a permanent adoption.
Oh, and Troy – Eugene now – is fine! He’s gained nearly 10 pounds, running up and down stairs and chasing pigeons down the street. We start hydrotherapy to get legs even stronger soon!
Learn more about the HEARTs Speak Perfect Exposure Project, and volunteer at Animal Care & Control in New York City.