Photo shoot with renowned photographer leads to dog adoption

When award-winning dog photographer Sophie Gamand reached out to the North Fork Animal Welfare League last month about photographing a dog up for adoption, shelter manager Gabby Glantzman knew exactly who to bring. 

Cleo, a friendly, energetic pit bull terrier mix, was selected for the Dec. 7 photo shoot in Brooklyn at Animal Haven, a nonprofit that finds homes for abandoned cats and dogs throughout the tri-state area. The goal was to find Cleo a forever home.

The mission was a quick success.

After Ms. Gamand shared Cleo’s photos on her personal Facebook page Sunday she had exciting news to deliver: Cleo had been adopted one day after her photo shoot.

“It seemed unbelievable because she’d been here so long and then was going home so quickly,” said Denise LeBeau, an employee at the NFAWL. “If I hadn’t been standing in the building when it happened I wouldn’t have believed it.”

The 2-year old pup had been at the shelter since she was 9 months old, Ms. LeBeau said. Although friendly with people and other dogs, Cleo’s high energy could sometimes be off-putting to potential adopters, Ms. LeBeau said.

That didn’t deter Shyanna Jimenez, however.

The Greenport resident met Cleo in the days leading up to the dog’s photo shoot while volunteering at the Southold location and the two quickly formed a bond.

“It was my first day there and I went out to go see the dogs,” Ms. Jimenez said. “There’s a back door the staff goes out of and I opened the door and Cleo was right there, grabbed a toy and came jumping up wanting to play. I just knew she was so loving and sweet … It was kind of like, me and Cleo had a moment and I knew she was my dog and meant to be.”

Ms. LeBeau said it’s common for volunteers to adopt cats and dogs from the shelter, something the employees love to see.

“Trust me, there is a bond and love there [with the animals], but everyone knows this is a shelter and not a home and a home is where they belong, where they flourish and where they want to be,” she said. “And that’s where we want them to be.”

What did surprise her, however, was how Cleo’s adoption came as they were booking her photo shoot. It wasn’t a shock to Ms. Gamand, however.

The photographer, who has over 65,000 followers on Facebook and is popular for her “flower power” series, which depicts pit bulls wearing flower crowns, said it happens often.

“So often, as a matter of fact, that I usually warn the shelters,” she wrote on Facebook with a picture of Cleo. “All we have to do sometimes is book a shoot.”

Ms. Jimenez said she was prompted to adopt Cleo once she heard about the photo shoot because she didn’t want her to go to someone else.

She said she loves everything about her new furry friend, especially the unconditional love Cleo gives Ms. Jimenez and her boyfriend, Joseph Leonard.

“She’s phenomenal,” Ms. Jimenez said. “There’s not just one thing I love about her. All she does is cuddle and play and lick and love. She’s great for the both of us.”

Photo caption: Cleo, a pitbull terrier mix, was adopted the day after a photoshoot with professional photographer Sophie Gamand. Credit: Sophie Gamand

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