Shelter Pets Project by Tammy Swarek

Tammy Swarek is a contemporary portrait photographer specializing in images with fashion flair.

We want to change the way the shelter animals are perceived.  Common perception is that these animals are unworthy discards from others or that they have health issues.  It is true that most have been discarded and abused by people, but that has nothing to do with the animal and everything to do with us.  We allow that to happen by not creating stricter laws with tougher penalties and insist they are enforced.   Every animal we have photographed at UCAPS is amazing. Each with such a different personality and disposition.  We wanted to showcase that and did so by dressing them up accordingly. 

Quite a bit of the clothing we use are things my children outgrew.  We also shop for the pup’s at Goodwill and other thrift stores.  Sometimes we find things on ebay and Etsy also.  When people learn what we are using them for, they typically help us out on the cost.  The majority of the floral headdresses are made by my photography partner and floral designer, Tammy Michael.  We have also had a few top notch New York City designers donate to our project.  The first one was Joan Kelly.  I reached out to her and asked if she would be interested in working with us.  She immediately jumped on board and sent out headdresses that week.  Joan’s work is pure art that can be seen in top fashion magazines, runways and now Joan is heading to the big screen.  Her involvement with UCAPS didn’t stop there.  She contacted North Shore Animal League on our behalf and help arrange the transport of many of our UCAPS kids to NYC.  Joan continues to provide us with couture pieces to use.  We have also had some community involvement.  Tanya Todd at El Dorado Florist has donated many flowers for out project.  Without this support our project would not be possible. 

So far we have photographed 80 dogs.  Roughly 60-70% have either been adopted, have adoptions pending, or have been transported to other shelters nationwide.

Shelter Pets Project is continuing to grow.  We already have online stores on Zazzle and Redbubble where gift items and clothing can be purchased.  Proceeds from these sales go directly to UCAPS.  There will be a 2017 UCAPS Shelter Pets Project calendar also.  We are tallying the votes to see who will be included.

All photos by Tammy Swarek