Stacie Kwacala has been in business since 2009. She runs Captured Moments Photography, where she preserves memories through photos for weddings, pregnancies, high school seniors, and more. She more recently started donating her time and skills to encourage prospective pet owners to create memories by adopting an animal from the local shelter.
Kwacala teams up with the McDonough County Animal Shelter to take professional photos of the available cats and dogs. The shelter then uploads the photos to its Facebook page to promote the animals up for adoption.
“I try to capture their personality, the size of the animal, so people can get an idea before they go to the shelter,” Kwacala said.
“And just how cute they are. They need to be adopted, they need homes. They are loving, they’re sweet – most of them. I mean, adoption is always a better option than shopping.”
Lead Animal Control Officer Kelsey Havens said Kwacala’s pet photography shows the animals in their true nature, despite the bad reputation sometimes given to older shelter animals.
“Not all of them are bad, not all of them came here because of something they did,” Havens said. “They all deserve a home just like any other dog or cat.”
Havens said the professional, clear photos prompt people to visit the shelter. She said pet adoptions have increased since Kwacala began volunteering her expertise a year-and-a-half ago.
“A lot of people would rather see photos where the dogs aren’t in cages and stuff like that,” Havens said. “I think her photography skills really bring out the personalities of the different dogs.”
Kwacala said getting the animals to cooperate for the pictures can be challenging. However, she said with assistance from the shelter workers and Photoshop, she always manages to get the shot.
“It just depends on the animal,” Kwacala said. “They all have different personalities. We try to capture that in the photos, but it’s me with the camera (and) Kelsey’s usually holding the pet. Then I have to Photoshop her hands off of the pet.”
Kwacala said she will continue volunteering to photograph the animals, and she encouraged prospective pet owners to give the shelter animals a chance.
“At least go check out the animal shelter. I think you’ll be surprised at what you see,” said Kwacala.
“There’s a lot of very loving, sweet, kind, well-trained animals already that you don’t have to train. Just go check out the shelter before you decide to go shop.”