Photographing Shelter Dogs Gets Her Fired

Photographs can save lives.  Here is an  excerpt from an article, recently published in  the New York Times,  about a woman who did just that.  Until she was fired.

Fired From a Shelter After Photographing The Animals, by Anna Jane Grossman.

Photography was not part of Emily Tanen’s job description at the Manhattan branch of Animal Care and Control of New York City. But soon after she started working there in August 2009, she began taking photos of animals who were scheduled to be euthanized.

Her photos, she said, were an effort to attract the interest of adopters and rescue groups.

She mostly photographed pit bulls: Freckles, black with pink skin around her eyes, wearing a striped scarf; Spot, a white puppy, getting his chest scratched; and Harlem, skinny and brindled, paws draped over a volunteer’s elbow.

But her photos violated the group’s strict policy on taking images of animals, which dictates who can take photos, how the animals can be photographed and how the images can be used. One rule prohibits showing humans in the photos.

As a result, Ms. Tanen said, she was fired in May.

“I knew they hated me,” she said. “But I thought that even if I was a pain, they’d suck it up. Because I was doing a really good job.”

Ms. Tanen said rescue groups often told her that her photos persuaded them to take animals they otherwise might not have. “I still remember Domino’s photo — the first pit bull we pulled from Manhattan,” said Jay Lombard, a founder of Dog Habitat Rescue in Brooklyn. “He was within 12 hours of being destroyed when Emily snapped a photo of him and attached it to an e-mail. That image hit me hard and I couldn’t turn away.”

Care and Control officials would not comment on Ms. Tanen’s departure, saying that they do not discuss personnel matters.

Ms. Tanen, 30, had previously worked at a no-kill shelter in Miami and operates her own small nonprofit rescue group. She was hired to be a liaison between Care and Control and the roughly 150 rescue groups that take animals from city shelters.

When she started working at Care and Control, Ms. Tanen said, she believed that the animals were photographed poorly and that the images failed to convey the warmth of a potential pet.

With her art background from her studies, Ms. Tanen decided she could do a better job with her $1,500 Nikon.  ( end of excerpt)

And she did take some very compelling photos of dogs, which you can compare to the more typical dog photos.  Scroll down a bit after you’ve feasted your eyes on the two dogs that belong to Emily Tanen at the top of the page.

A picture’s still worth a thousand words, right?

Except that

1.  Taking photographs was not part of Emily Tanen’s job description.

2.  Tanen violated policy again when she took photos that showed people interacting with dogs and again when she attached these photos to emails.  And Sent Them.

3.  As a result of her efforts,  some of the dogs scheduled for euthanasia were saved.

4.  Tanen’s more candid photographs worked despite the glaring fact that she violated the terms of her employment contract.

Wouldn’t you have thought that some easier solution could have been reached other than firing Emily Tanen?

What does it say about “shelter policy” when the guidelines they have for photographing dogs in their care are not allowed to be photographed with people touching them?

What do you think?  [gplus count=”true” size=”Medium” ]


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