The public misconception that pit bulls are ill-tempered has caused an abundance of the breed awaiting adoption at local animal shelters, but photographers are trying to address the issue one click at a time.
Sophie Gamand is an award-winning photographer and animal advocate who travels around the United States photographing shelter dogs for free to help bring awareness to their fate and help them get adopted. For the past several years, she has been photographing shelter pit bulls wearing flower crowns, in a project called Pit Bull Flower Power, helping hundreds of these dogs find homes while combating their unjust reputation.
“My work explores the complex dynamics between humans and dogs,” says Gamand. “By photographing shelter dogs and telling their stories, it’s humans I am trying to understand better.
“We created dogs,” she continues. “We made them who they are through genetic manipulation, training, by subduing an entire species. This should give us a tremendous responsibility toward them. Yet an estimated 3.9 million dogs enter animal shelters every year in the U.S. That’s one dog for 83.5 inhabitants.”
She notes that there are many reasons for dogs to end up in shelters, but when it comes to pit bulls, things are even more difficult because these dogs are last to be adopted. Many landlords ban them from their residences, or insurance companies refuse to insure households with these dogs, and some entire cities ban these dogs. But even when they aren’t legally banned, it can be incredibly difficult for a family to find a place to live if they have a pit bull or pit bull mix.
Gamand has visited several Long Island shelters and rescues including the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter and the Town of Brookhaven Animal Shelter, and has assisted in the adoption of hundreds of dogs.
Sophie’s Pit Bull Flower Power coffee-table book, which includes 250 pages of portraits and the touching stories of shelter pit bulls on their way home, is available for purchase online at sophiegamand.com/store. Follow @SophieGamand on Instagram for dog portraits!