MARIETTA - October is the American Humane Association's Adopt-A-Dog month.
For Sharon Paul of Marietta, every month, week and day of the year is the right time to help a dog-or cat-find a new home.
Paul is an active volunteer at the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley and can most often be seen inside or on the grounds, snapping photos of the cats and dogs who are awaiting adoption.
Photo by Sharon Bopp
Volunteer and animal lover Sharon Paul of Marietta snuggles with Taco, a dog available for adoption at the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley, after taking his photo.
"I guess I'm the official shelter photographer," Paul said.
Not only does Paul takes lots of photos of each dog and cat who is brought to the shelter, she also takes snapshots at the humane society's special events like Paws Walk and adoption events.
"I do anything to get some publicity out for the humane society," she said.
Profile: Sharon Paul
Volunteer at Humane Society of the Ohio Valley since 2008.
"Official" humane society photographer; takes photos of dogs and cats who come to the shelter, taking time to capture each animal's personality in the shot.
Editor of "Humane Society of the Ohio Valley" newsletter.
Serves as feline rescue coordinator.
Paul admitted she spends 10-12 hours each day on volunteer work for the HSOV.
"I'm out there at least three hours in the afternoon, taking pictures," she said.
Later Paul downloads the photos onto her computer, edits them and chooses the three best snapshots of each animal.
"She goes home and spends more time trying to see if she can find places to adopt some of our animals," said Steve Herron, executive director of the HSOV.
Final photos are put on the link to Pet Finders available on the humane society website (hsov.org) and on its Facebook page (go to facebook.com, then type 'Humane Society of the Ohio Valley' in the search box) - along with each animal's name and a description of his/her personality.
"I have seen Sharon take numerous pictures of the same animal until she can capture their personality or their 'best side' in order to make them more adoptable," said society volunteer Kathy Mallett.
Paul said she has developed a "feel" for the animals.
"Sometimes the eyes just tell the story," she added. "They're like little windows to their souls."
The shelter staff members are also good about letting Paul know about each animal's temperament and any interesting or sad story about how they got to the shelter.
"That appeals to people. It helps the cat or dog," said Paul.
She also names the dogs and cats who arrive without one.
"People don't understand how important a name is," said Kelly Schubert, Washington County dog warden and humane society board member, who has been working with Paul for about five years. "If you just know their names, it makes their day."
Paul admitted she gets a lot of teasing about the names she picks.
"Some are silly or theme names or something catchy," she said.
Paul has named shelter animals after candy bars, Italian men and even rappers. Four kittens were recently given the names Kid Rock, Kid Sister, Lil Wayne and Eminem.
"That got a lot of attention," Paul said laughingly.
Paul and her husband have two pets they adopted from the society - Kachina, the "foster failure cat," as Paul called her, and a beagle named Lucy.
The plight of the animals she tends to sometimes overwhelms Paul. Once she told a fellow volunteer friend: "I don't think I can keep doing this. It's just so sad."
The friend's advice: "Give yourself an evening to cry, get a good night's sleep, dry your tears and go back the next day and do what you can to help the animals."
According to Schubert, Paul is the animals' lifeline.
"If not for her, we wouldn't have half the rate of adoptions we do," she said.
Should Paul ever stop volunteering for the society, "It would be some big shoes to fill," Herron said.
"We would have to find two or three people to do what she does," he added.
Paul encouraged others in the area to consider the volunteer opportunities available at the Humane Society of the Ohio Valley. To volunteer or adopt an animal, contact the humane society at 373-5959 or hsov.org.