NKUT (No-Kill Utah), is our newest campaign at work to make Utah a no-kill state. It’s modeled after our NKLA campaign that we did with TWBA/Chiat/Day in Los Angeles, and aims to eliminate the killing of adoptable animals in Utah’s shelters by 2019. Seem impossible? It’s not. In the past couple years already, we’ve made huge strides, turning several famously awful shelters into no-kill ones. It can be done, and it will be done. And if we can make the city of Los Angeles no-kill, and the entire state of Utah, there’s no excuse for anywhere else.
I started photographing this campaign the week after I returned from maternity leave. I went to our adoption center every Friday and photographed whoever I could. This campaign is totally different than all my other work though. Best Friends is already no-kill, so all the animals I usually photograph are safe, whether or not they’ve been adopted yet. We like to focus on the good news, so my photos always tend to be very happy, bright, and show the bond between people and animals. But this campaign isn’t about those animals. This campaign is about the animals all across the state of Utah whose lives are still at stake in shelters. So for these photos, that’d be on billboards and buses and ads all over the city, we wanted to capture the longing in their eyes, make that connection to the viewer that says, “Hey, I’m still here, and I still need that happy ending.”
Like Molly, the beagle, who was at the shelter for the third time in five years, through no fault of her own. She first entered the shelter as a stray, and was adopted not long after. She had a family for three years before they surrendered her when they had to move. She was adopted again, and had herself a family for another two years before the new owners surrendered her, saying they no longer had time for her. It just breaks my heart. This perfect dog who was good with dogs, kids, everyone, could have been killed in a shelter, why? Because her people didn’t want her. Luckily, because of our efforts to make Utah no-kill, she was adopted before time would have traditionally run out.
Here are a few of my favorite shots…
We had a media event to launch the campaign at The Leonardo (a totally awesome museum here in Salt Lake) and as part of the launch, I got a photo exhibit there. For real. I’m used to my photos being all over the place, but The Leonardo was a BIG deal to me. It’s pretty much the coolest place my photos have been. What made it even cooler? Finding the exhibit and my name mentioned on the front page of the Salt Lake Tribune. My name is no stranger to print, but always in a byline. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t stoked. And I’m even more stoked that we’re totally going to end the killing of adoptable animals in Utah’s shelters!