Our April Ambassador, Lori Fusaro, is a photographer who has dedicated her work to helping shelter animals find forever homes. Through her images, she’s a one-woman tour-de-force in the face of shelter-animal stigmas.
Lori Fusaro is no stranger to difficult working conditions. In her profession as an animal photographer, she has been bitten, pooped on, contracted ringworm, and suffered allergic reactions, but in her opinion, it’s all completely worth it. She first got involved with an animal shelter when she was working as a freelance photographer and didn’t have the space or the lifestyle to have her own dog. To get her puppy fix, she began volunteering and her photographic eye was quick to notice that the images being used on the shelter’s website and social channels were less than appealing.
“I would see the scary, mug-shots they would take of the animals looking for homes and thought the best way I could give back would be by providing professional photos. I never thought I could make a living doing that,” she admits. What started as a volunteer gig, quickly turned into a passion project and eventually a full-time job. Lori found innovative ways to capture the true nature and personalities of the animals brought to the shelter – She even built her own noise-maker necklace, fully equipped with squeakers and duck calls to elicit adorable reactions from her furry subjects. She found that if she was able to capture the fun, goofy side of her shelter subjects on film, potential adopters were more likely to come in to meet them.
“Knowing someone found a pet to adopt because they saw my photo online is the best feeling in the world.”
Through her work, Lori also discovered the challenge of finding homes for older dogs and cats. With so many homeless pets in the U.S., older animals tend to be less desirable to adopters and, sadly, many get put to sleep. Lori herself was unsure about her ability to care for a senior dog, but took up the challenge when she adopted Sunny – a sixteen-year-old pitbull with a myriad of health problems predicted to live no more than six weeks. Remarkably, Sunny lived another three years. Her miraculous turn-around is a testament to the healing power of a loving home, as well as a stringent contrast to the stigma of elderly animals.
This experience sparked Lori’s inspiration to put together a book of her photos, appropriately titled My Old Dog, which aims to celebrate older dogs and squash the negative preconception that surrounds them. She’s been taking the photos for Best Friends Animal Society’s website and social media in the LA area for the past five years and her mission to change the perception of shelter animals and older dogs is still going strong. If you’re thinking of adopting a furry friend of your own, head over to their website – You may just want to adopt them all!
Lori currently lives with her husband, two dogs, and a cat, but she regularly fosters other animals for the shelter and has something of a rotating door of four-legged friends making their way through her cozy Culver City home. When it comes to designing a space that’s stylish and pet-friendly, Lori’s sensibilities are purrr-fectly on point!