Bark contributor Anna Jane Grossman (famously of the recent East Village Halloween parade post) recently wrote a fascinating piece about the firing of Emily Tanen at NYC’s Animal Care & Control. Until recently, Tanen was liaison between the shelter and its many rescue group partners. (She is the founder of Project Pet, Inc.). According to the story, Tanen was fired for taking photos of dogs in violation of the shelter’s policy. In particular, she did not heed the prohibition against including people (or parts of people) in those images.
We’ve always been believers in the key role good photos play in getting dogs adopted, promoting the efforts of groups such as HeARTs Speak, an alliance dedicated to helping photographers volunteer at shelters to improve the quality of images. Pros are pros for a reason. With better equipment, hard-won skills and an artist’s eye, they can capture a dog’s wonderful essence even in a stress-filled environment. Instead of what looks like a perp shot, you get a portrait. We all know stories of folks who were motivated to take the all important first steps to adopt a dog on the strength of a compelling photo. There’s no one in the animal welfare community who can say it’s not critical.
Grossman’s story and the criticisms of Animal Care & Control are disturbing. Since Animal Care & Control officials have not spoken about Tanen’s firing, we don’t know their side of the story but any policy that discourages employees and volunteers from taking steps that can only help more dogs find good homes seems ill advised—especially when there is a track record of success.