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SmugMug Success Stories: PawSafe Animal Rescue

The Liberator: Putting the Doggy In the Window

Name: Diane Scuderi
Position/Title: Director
Name of Company: PawSafe Animal Rescue
Location: Patterson, NY
Market: Animal Rescue Nonprofit
Bragworthy Factoid: Saves the lives of more than 100 dogs/month
Website: http://pawsafe.smugmug.com
SmugMugger Since: 2008

Career Highlights…

  • Benchmark: saving 30 puppies every 2 weeks
  • Creating a rescue network that has placed thousands of animals into safe and loving homes
  • Raising $2,000 at their first fundraiser

Fave Features…

It’s a dog’s life

Scuderi’s underground railroad for abused animals began in 1995, when her then-husband brought home a pregnant cat that had been knocked around by a raccoon. Soon, her fervor to save animals led her to found PawSafe as a nonprofit and focus on canine rescue in the southern US. Sadly, the need for PawSafe has grown exponentially since then. “We’ll pull this cute chocolate Lab from a shelter in Virginia, and suddenly there’s another one. And another, and another,” Scuderi says. Modern communication tools help PawSafe hook up with local humane societies. “We align with other rescues already in an area. We have volunteers scattered around the country—people who donate their weekends to getting dogs to the receiving leg of a rescue.” PawSafe targets so-called high-kill shelters, operating a mass transfer every other week. Scuderi’s network picks up animals, brings them to a kennel, boards them, fosters them out and arranges medical care. “Then,” she says grimly, “we do it all again.”

SmugMug to the rescue

PawSafe calls its adoptee gallery “Getting Ready to Meet You.” Thanks to SmugMug, it’s a beautiful, welcoming and easily navigable place to find the pet of your dreams. “We love the sharing feature, as it lets us shoot [pet-seekers] a sneak peek of the animals we’re readying for adoption,” Scuderi says. “We probably use this feature more than any other.” Sharing photos via a respected host is important to Scuderi. “Our photo galleries and archives give our adopters a sense we’ve been around—that we’re permanent,” she says. “If you adopt and can’t keep the dog, you can bring it back. We have photographic records from 2006 on, emails posted as testimonials, etc.” SmugMug technology allows volunteers in shelters to snap a dog on death row, email the photo privately and get an answer about rescue space in the north quickly and efficiently. “This also captures the inspiring side of galleries,” Scuderi adds. “It just grows and grows—scrolling pages of dogs we’ve rescued.”

Doggone recession

Financial constraints, economically driven surrenders and the rising price of gas have put the squeeze on Scuderi’s operation. The relationship with SmugMug has helped make the most of limited resources. “SmugMug helped PawSafe establish an Internet presence early on in the game, before websites were popular with animal rescues,” she says. “Not only that, if we ever have a question, they give us support.” Sadly, a tough economy tends to boost the flow of animals, as otherwise attentive dog owners are forced to surrender pets due to job or home loss. Older animals and larger breeds are even harder to place, Scuderi says. Once a dog is adopted, it holds a place of honor in the “adopted” section, hosted on SmugMug. “It is the adopted dogs and puppies section that we promote and are most proud of,” Scuderi says. “We also have that gallery linked as a WordPress plug-in to our website.”

Shooting for adoption

PawSafe’s photographers have developed best practices for this unique photographic form. Often, pictures are snapped quickly in shelters, under less-than-ideal circumstances. They focus on the animal’s eyes, trying to highlight the dog’s essential goodness and sparkle. Although they aim to keep people out of the photos—final screen real estate is a half-inch thumbnail on Petfinder—they sometimes include a child’s hand touching the dog’s head, or something else that captures the dog’s spirit. They never forget that the animal’s life is on the line. “You have to do something in that icon size to make the dog jump off the page,” Scuderi says.

Biting off more to chew

For the time being, PawSafe’s team is investing in the organization’s future. For example, PawSafe now has two volunteers seeking grants, and just finished its first fundraiser (netting $2,000). Their goal? To build a shelter facility of their own within four years. “People think an adoption fee of $400 is high,” Scuderi says. “It seems high until you ask a vet how much it costs to spay, vaccinate, get a health certificate, etc. We do extensive medical. There are lots of laws governing transferring dogs state to state. We mostly break even, even on a healthy puppy.”

Inspired? See some of our other amazing SmugMug Success stories.

  1. October 15, 2012 at 1:00 pm

    Wow–as an animal lover and advocate for my local Feeding Pets of the Homeless, I am touched! I don’t think I could be a foster mom…I’d want to keep them! What a fantastic way to put your photography talent to a great cause!

  2. October 15, 2012 at 6:38 pm

    Thank you Kasha! But give some more consideration to being a foster home as you will truly save a life that might not have a chance without you.

  3. October 18, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Adopting a homeless pet is a great way to proclaim your love for the animals. It can save a lot of dogs from abuse and neglect that they suffer on the road.

  4. October 18, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Not sure about NY, but Massachusetts just passed a law allowing pet owners to create “pet trusts” to provide for their care in the case of the owner’s death. This might be a good thing to research and cut down on homeless pets! Here’s an article on it: http://www.cape-law.com/2012/massachusetts-pet-trust-part-1/

  5. August 1, 2013 at 2:24 am

    Asking questions are really good thing if you are not
    understanding something entirely, however this post gives pleasant understanding even.

  1. October 15, 2012 at 6:43 pm
  2. October 21, 2012 at 8:06 am

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