Animal shelter volunteers are committed to a tough, thankless job that usually provides little to no pay. But the rewards outweigh any tired feet or heartache.
Photographer Jesse Freidin wants to recognize those compassionate people.
Finding Shelter is a photography series that looks at animal shelters from the viewpoint of volunteers who dedicate countless hours to helping animals in need.
Freidin has spent the last 10 years taking highly coveted dog portraits. After noticing a trend among photographers who volunteer to take pictures of shelter animals to help them get adopted, he decided to focus on the human side.
“A good photo of a shelter pet helps them get adopted and that’s great,” Freidin told Yahoo Makers. “But no one was really looking at the volunteers – the people who are really responsible for making sure these animals get in and out of the shelter system.”
The photographer traveled to various shelters across California to document the volunteers and their stories. He found out that these people had something beyond compassion in common.
“I believe volunteers are very selfless and want these animals to survive – as many of these animals as possible,” he said. “But there is something these volunteers are getting in return: A certain level of support and comfort that they’re not getting from anything else.”
Approximately 7.6 million animals enter U.S. shelters every year. Only 2.7 million are adopted, according to the ASPCA. The goal for Freidin is not to take away from the conversation about the animals in need, rather to encourage people to volunteer by honoring those who already do.
“I want the volunteers to be revered. I want them to be shown a deep amount of respect and admiration,” Freidin said.
Freidin will take the “Finding Shelter” series on the road this fall, visiting around a dozen shelters from Boston to San Francisco. He launched a Kickstarter on Tuesday in hopes to turn his series into a book. The finished product will be donated to shelters to hopefully help more adoptions.
“If I had as much money and time as I needed, I’d be doing this forever,” he said.