St. John Animal Shelter gifted with high-quality photography equipment

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, September 30, 2014

By Monique Roth

LAPLACE — Lights, camera, action! 

Animals housed at the St. John the Baptist Parish Animal Shelter will now be photographed with professional-grade equipment thanks to a donation valued at nearly $1,000 from the Shelter Art Foundation. 

SAF East Coast Director Deb Cobb said Steve Sloop, whose goal is to equip as many shelters as possible with the photography equipment needed to produce high-quality animal photos, started the Shelter Art Foundation in California. What started out as a small operation became a nation-wide organization that has now served nine states after Sloop was approached by Purina for a sponsorship partnership, Cobb explained.

The St. John Parish Animal Shelter was one of six Louisiana shelters Cobb visited this week to donate and set up photography equipment, including lighting equipment, an animal-friendly backdrop, a wireless remote and other essentials.

Cobb said SAF learned about the St. John Parish Shelter from Leona Hopkins, a volunteer at the Jefferson Parish West Bank Shelter, who had been in contact with SAF.

Parish Shelter Manager Rachel Sance said she’s confident the pictures the shelter will now be able to produce will lead to more parish animal adoptions.

“The photo is what people notice first,” Sance said of online pet photos and adoption information. “If you have a great photo, it creates an emotional bond” with the viewer and they are more likely to want to adopt. 

“I’ve had people call and say, ‘I saw the picture and I have to have this dog,’” she said. “The better the picture the more likely you are to get that animal adopted.”

Cobb delivered the photography equipment donation to the St. John Parish Shelter Monday and trained Sance and St. John Parish animal control officer Orlando Nicholas on how to use the professional equipment, pose animals and take photos.

Cobb said her goal when she leaves shelters is she wants the employees and volunteers to feel comfortable handling the animals and the equipment.

“It’s rewarding because you know you’re helping a shelter’s staff and volunteers, and it has a dramatic impact on adoption,” Cobb said about her job with SAF. “Having professional portraits makes a huge difference (for a shelter).”

She said a secondary impact the photos often produce is they can influence a community’s perceptions of the shelter, as one that is “going above and beyond” to provide excellent care for the animals it houses.

Sance said she’s excited to start using the improved photos on the shelter’s Facebook page and on other online outlets, including and

The St. John Parish Animal Shelter, located at 488 West 2nd Street in LaPlace, can be reached by calling 985-651-7387.