A Valley photographer is getting rewarded for taking pictures of animals in a shelter on her own time in hopes of getting them adopted, as well as starting a non-profit for the most severe pets.
Audrea Donnelly has perfected the "whoops" and whistles over the years to get the best out of the animals.
"I do it because I love these creatures, and like I said, they deserve an opportunity to have a home and to have a nice life beyond these walls," Donnelly said.
Donnelly volunteers her time taking high-quality photos of animals up for adoption at Paws and Claws Care Center, the animal shelter in Apache Junction.
She then posts the pictures on the shelter's website and you would be amazed by the power of the snapshots.
"If you see a picture of a dog in a kennel, frightened, you might feel sorry for it, but you don't really get a sense of its personality, and I think Audrea, by doing what she does, brings out the personality of the animal," Jennifer Campos, Donnelly's friend said.
Apache Junction Animal Control Division Commander Capt. Arnold Freeman said it's making a huge difference.
"We're at an approximate 98 percent release rate," Freeman said.
Freeman said the only dogs that get put down usually have serious health issues.
Now Donnelly is also doing something about that. She formed her own non-profit called CARE that raises money to pay for needed procedures so the injured animals can at least have a chance at a happy home.
That's what she did for little Tyra who lost an eye but gained a grateful family.
"I always think if I hadn't seen her picture, she wouldn't be with us now and I couldn't imagine life without her," said Sandy Benevento.
But money is tough to come by and that's why Donnelly's friend and mentor, Jennifer Campos contacted CBS 5's Pay It Forward program.
"We want to pay it forward, $500 for CARE and to honor you for everything you do for Apache Junction and everything you do through CARE," Campos said.
"When you hear the stories that so and so got adopted, a dog that was sick and injured and all of a sudden got adopted to this wonderful family, and you get the pictures back with the animal in bed with the kids, I mean it's a great feeling," Donnelly said.
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