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Animal Shelter Photography 

Animal shelter dogs with trainer - by Shaun Barr Photography

©Shaun Barr Photography

Minnie, the 1-year-old terrier

Dog and Cat Photography With Animal Rescue Cumbria 

It's no secret that animal shelter charities carry out an amazing amount of work for pets who, through no fault of their own, have been left without anyone to look after them. However, the phenomenal rise in dog and cat ownership during the COVID-19 lockdown periods has led to a dramatic increase in the number of animals in need of rehoming.

 

Of course the circumstances under which pets are brought into a shelter vary widely - from the death or illness of an owner through to financial difficulties or an owner simply unable to cope with their dog or cat. Sometimes, depressingly, it's for no other reason than the novelty of dog or cat ownership has worn off or has become inconvenient. Some pets are simply abandoned, left homeless and hungry on the street.

Others are even less fortunate, traumatised through ill-treatment, leaving not just physical injuries but a legacy of emotional damage, a loss of trust and a deeply ingrained fear of humans. Even beginning the process of healing such scars can be a long and expensive process, but it's only along that often long road of rehabilitation that these pets can find a future and a loving home. 

That's where the dedication and commitment of animal shelter charities such as Animal Rescue Cumbria - The Wainwright Shelter perform what I consider to be small miracles: turning around the fate of animals without hope or home and providing them with a happy, loving family life for the rest of their lives.

Animal shelter dogs with trainer - by Shaun Barr Photography

©Shaun Barr Photography

Dog Trainer Helen Rigg, from Canine Way building trust with Mike the adorable Samoyed

I've been photographing dogs and cats at Animal Rescue Cumbria for some time now, on each occasion just about resisting the urge to scoop up as many as I can and take them home. Compared to the enormous amount of work that so many of the other 60 or so volunteers at the site do, my job is a relatively easy one.

 

My aim is to try and capture each animal's personality and character and reflect that in the images I create. I want the viewer - each one a potential owner - to get a sense of the individual character of the animal I have photographed.

I often find that photographing the pets with a person is particularly effective in helping a potential owner see how the dog interacts and relates with people - often key elements when looking for a prospective pet. 

Animal shelter dogs with trainer - by Shaun Barr Photography

©Shaun Barr Photography

'Bonding', Vesper, approx. 2-year-old working cocker spaniel

About Animal Rescue Cumbria

Animal Rescue Cumbria sprang to life in 1972, formed by a group. of women who had read a local newspaper article reporting on the number of pets being euthanised due to a lack of any suitable homes being found. The group worked tirelessly - not only taking the pets in themselves but finding other places where the animals could board until permanent homes could be found for them. They would fundraise to provide the food, shelter and veterinary care the animals needed.

In 1974 Alfred and Betty Wainwright became involved with Alfred Wainwright becoming Chairman under which role he helped the organisation become a registered charity. Alfred Wainwright also set up a fund with the goal of building a dedicated animal rescue centre, which was built in 1984, and is the present site: Kapellan, at Grayrigg, a few miles north of Kendal.

Royalties from Wainwright's book sales were donated to Animall Rescue Cumbria during his lifetime. Since his death however, the charity has been entirely dependent on legacies, donations and fund-raising activities. It's also an organisation that is deeply rooted within the Lakeland community who continue to generously give the support the charity depends upon to keep going.

Animal shelter dogs with trainer - by Shaun Barr Photography

©Shaun Barr Photography

Playtime for a kitten in the Animal Rescue Centre's purpose-built cat room.

The centre manages to successfully rehome over 300 dogs and cats a year, and where needed, continues to provide owners with ongoing help and support provided by a highly skilled animal care team. Like many charitable organisations Animal Rescue Cumbria depends on volunteers who between them donate thousands of hours a year. 

Animal shelter dogs with trainer - by Shaun Barr Photography

©Shaun Barr Photography

Sandy, the 4-year-old Shar Pei, who has spent longer than average at the shelter.

I usually photograph the dogs at the centre during their walk and exercise time. The centre has a wonderfully large field for this with a beautiful backdrop of trees, and the Cumbrian countryside and fells beyond. Each session is tailored towards the needs of the individual dog, taking into account any particular issues and always making sure the dog is as relaxed as possible. 

Animal shelter dogs with trainer - by Shaun Barr Photography

©Shaun Barr Photography

'Friends', Rodney, approx. 1-year old Bulldog x

For me it's a fantastic privilege just to spend some time with these animals, attempting to try and capture some of their fantastic characters; everyone so very different, each with a different story to tell: some happy, some sad, and some terribly traumatic, but every single one of them deserving of, and needing, a caring, loving home and owner to call their own. And if I can do a little to help them towards that then it's worth every single second.

I'm mindful that my images are likely to be the pets’ first introduction to potential adopters and that getting the photographs right could mean the difference between a pet finding their forever home or spending another day, week or month in the shelter. So my aim is to try and bring the pet's character to life through the images I create.

Bengal Cat - Animal Shelter Photography

©Shaun Barr Photography

Nevis, the beautiful Bengal cat.

To say that the running of an animal shelter is a very challenging undertaking would be a huge understatement. And with an ever-growing cost-of-living crisis charities such as this really bear the brunt of hard times. But thanks to the unswerving dedication and commitment of a team who make it their life's work to ensure these wonderful animals are given a second chance, shelters like Animal Rescue Cumbria are determined to continue to keep giving dogs and cats a better chance of a safe, secure life of love and happiness.  

If you'd like to make a donation to Animal Rescue Cumbria please contact them via the website, click on the link: 

Animal Rescue Cumbria

Animal shelter dogs with trainer - by Shaun Barr Photography

©Shaun Barr Photography

A working cocker spaniel in its element - running through a field following scents.

Wherever possible I like to be able to give the dog the freedom to be able to do what they enjoy doing most - the very best way to capture their real character. So with the assistance from a member of the animal care team or dog trainer,  in a safe and secure field, a dog like Vespa can be put on a long training lead and then given the freedom to do all things she loves to do: bounding through a field following a myriad of scents in the case of Vesper the working cocker spaniel! 

Vesper had a rough start to her life so to watch her playing and running with sheer joy and excitement is just wonderful - and I really wanted to capture her in her element. 

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