Nightly News   |  July 20, 2013

Photographer promotes senior pet adoption

While doing volunteer photography work to help animals get adopted from jam-packed shelters in L.A., photographer Lori Fusaro grew increasingly alarmed by how many senior dogs were languishing because no one wanted them. NBC’s Jill Rappaport reports

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>>> finally tonight on "making a difference" report is about a woman whose photographs are giving some older dogs that rare second chance. jill rappaport has our story.

>> who wants to wear a wig?

>> reporter: lori loves dogs so much she made it her day job .

>> i am a professional pet photographer. i fell in love with it.

>> reporter: she's taken plenty of photos of pampered pets. but lori 's most important clients are the ones that need her most.

>> here you go.

>> reporter: six months ago she began volunteering at a local animal shelter . working with senior dogs. a worker showed her photos used to promote dogs up for adoption.

>> oh, my gosh. the photos look like mug shots. the sad, tragic photos just don't look. most people see that and they don't want to look at it. they look away .

>> reporter: so lori put her professional scales to use.

>> oh, there's that handsome face. my goal is to capture their personalities. people can look at them and say, oh, wow, that's a family dog . i could bring her home.

>> when she first saw lori 's photos, i think all of the staff, including all of us, in management here, we were just astounded. because you're seeing in a photo what you know you see whenever you deal with the animal in person.

>> reporter: currently there are over 7 million pets in shelters across the country. almost half will never make it out. a vast majority of older animals. given up by their owners in the twilight of their lives.

>> something about an older animal that has been left to die alone in the shelter, that -- it's just something that i couldn't allow to happen.

>> reporter: now older dogs have really benefited from the change. in just the last month, five dogs have been rescued or adopted, because of lori 's photos.

>> my photos show smiles, and joy, and that really seems to be the magic formula .

>> reporter: jill rappaport, nbc news.