In recent years, Rachael Rodgers has found her Instagram account to have gained more than 77,000 followers. Using this social media platform, she’s now taking advantage of her platform to bring visibility to rescue pet adoption.
And this message all began with one picture of a dog.
Way back in December 2016, Rodgers posted a picture of Denali, her dog, seated in a canoe while they paddled through the picturesque mountains of Western Canada. The picture was then shared by a couple of other canine-focused accounts. From there, a couple thousand of their followers found their way back to Rodgers,@trailsandbears, and began following her account.
“I had a lot more followers than I knew what to do with. I didn’t really know why I had Instagram, so I kept trying to think of ways to use it or what to do with the followers, and then I just realized, ‘They’re all dog people. Why not show them dogs — dogs that need a home?’” Rodgers said to NBC News’ Know Your Value.
Since then, Rodgers has been using photography and Instagram to bring attention to adoptable animals around her home in Canmore, Alberta. Since taking on the project, she’s managed to help more than 200 dogs find homes – as well as made a few (or many) new friends in the process.
As Know Your Value reports, Rodgers creates digital art – some of which is hanging at the pub where she is employed as a server.
“I think because I’ve seen it be useful, I feel responsible to do it as much as possible,” she said.
Her clever approach to this project has not gone unnoticed, as creates “dating profiles” for each dog, showing tens of thousands of potential adopters just what life would be like with these canines.
“That’s exactly what you want to do with the dog, is show them as you would an online dating profile,” Rodgers said. “It’s a dog in their element doing what they love to do, so that you can cut out all the not-good suitors and head right for someone who loves that kind of dog.”
Rodgers is skilled at capturing each of the dog’s personalities throughout the photos. She takes hundreds of each, sharing the best ones to Facebook and Instagram. She also gives the photos to the shelters who are caring for the animals so they can use them in their promotional networks.
While some of the dogs she photographs get dropped off at her home, there are other times that she has to drive for miles to pick up, then drive even further in order to find a suitable place to photograph. As you can imagine, she says it’s a lot of work.
“The behind-the-scenes is not glamorous at all — it’s a lot of driving and a lot of editing,” Rodgers said.
As tedious it may be at times, according to NBC, Rodgers is hopeful that her work is appreciated, catches on, but more importantly, helps to get more dogs adopted.
“I want everybody that wants to do this to know how and take all the perceived barriers out of the way and help if they can,” Rodgers stated, “because I think there’s so much potential for social media for the whole system, not just an individual dog, but helping society think differently.”
Rodgers is also very happy and willing to share tips with other aspiring photographers, as well as promote the importance of adopting a rescue dog, instead of buying one from a breeder.
“There are just too many unwanted dogs,” Rodgers continued. “I guess my goal is to show how amazing just any random dog at a shelter is, [and] usually I take the dogs that are harder to adopt. But if those dogs are amazing, then why get a family pet from a breeder?”
As Rodgers continues to become an expert in the field of animal photography, she’s even published a guide for others to follow in order to try the same methods themselves. Her “Instagram for Adoptable Dogs,” is available to download on her website, and promises to help its readers create “the perfect #pupfolio.”