They are selling holiday-themed lotions to raise money for Boulder-based Shelter Me Photography, an operation that provides free professional photo services to shelters around the country. Shelter Me accelerates adoption rates through the circulation of high-quality, promotional images of pets on websites and in newspapers, for example.
Melissa France, whose daughters Maria, 6, and Sophia, 4, came up with idea, says the family had to put down their 12-year-old pug Rocky in September. France says she tried to help the girls understand that Rocky was sick and suffering, and that there are other dogs at the animal shelter that are healthy and need good homes.
She says Maria was upset when she learned that dogs and cats are sometimes euthanized after being at shelters for a certain amount of time, and she became determined to do something about it.
France and her husband work in the skin-care industry, and so when her girls were searching for something to sell to raise money for Shelter Me, “we stuck with what we know.”
She says her girls picked the scents for the lotions and even designed the labels.
“They were with me every step of the way,” France says. “They certainly had a hand in everything, as much as they can.”
Her husband’s company, Colorado Quality Products, donated the lotions, Koch Industries donated the fragrances, and Primeflex Labels donated the labels.
The girls also came up with the slogan for the fundraiser: “Make a sale, save a tail!” That was Maria’s idea. The runner-up slogan for the lotions, suggested by Sophia, was “It makes your feet sweet.”
The four Christmas-scented lotions are being sold at Fruehauf ’s in Boulder, the Home for the Holidays shop in The Village at Flatiron Crossing, and other area stores, as well as online at www.advanskin.com. France says the lotions will also be for sale from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 18, in the pet section at McGuckin Hardware.
“We are extremely proud that they would want to do something like this, especially around Christmas and Santa, knowing that there are other needs in the world,” she says.
France had met Nanette Martin, executive director of Shelter Me Photography, a couple years before, and suggested that all profits from the fundraiser go to that organization.
Martin herself is a compelling story. She was inspired to begin taking photos of animals at shelters and adoption agencies after being assigned to photograph the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for People magazine.
While touring the area by boat with the National Guard, Martin says, she saw many dogs stranded on top of cars and front porches, and she made a note of their locations, leaving the addresses with the local chapter of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. She also photographed the scene of what she describes as a brutal killing of pet dogs at the hands of sheriff ’s deputies at St. Bernard Parish, La. No one was charged in the killings.
She traveled with groups rescuing abandoned animals from the hurricane’s devastation, and her photos helped ensure that the animals were adopted quickly when they reached their out-of-state destination.
“I was told my pictures made the difference between life and death,” Martin says.
Her experiences in Louisiana inspired her to dedicate her photography talents to getting pets adopted faster. She explains that seeing a dog in a kennel, especially a breed like a pit bull that can act crazy and wild when caged, does not always make people want to adopt. But a good photo of that dog is a different matter.
“Great pictures will get an animal out of a shelter,” she says. Martin explains that faster animal turnover also helps shelters financially, through increased adoption-fee revenue.
Her operation relies on fundraising and grants, so donations are welcome. “Our pockets are open and empty,” she says. More information is available at www.sheltermephotography.org and www.facebook.com/sheltermephoto.
Asked about her reaction to the France children’s fundraiser, Martin says, “That’s so fantastic. For kids that young to have such a mature outlook — when I was that age, everything was about me and mine. I think this campaign they are doing is fabulous.”