RICHMOND, Va. – Abandoned, abused and alone – at Richmond Animal League (RAL), finding homes for dogs and cats is hard enough, but during the pandemic, Executive Director Elizabeth Thomas says it's next to impossible.
“Every day we’re doing our best to do what we can," Thomas said. “It puts a strain on a job that is already kind of difficult. Right now we don’t know.”
With coronavirus biting down, the shelter is shuttered. Salvation may be a click away, though.
Becky Huddleston is focusing her efforts on forgotten faces.
“I like to get the dogs looking into the camera when I can," Huddleston said.
The professional photographer lets her eye do the talking. She hopes capturing the personality of homeless animals may give them a chance of finding a permanent home.
“Immense joy. Immense joy," Huddleston said. "This is what makes me feel valuable.”
Becky has been volunteering her time and talents at RAL for 10 years.
“Yes, it has its heartbreaking moments, but it has more heart-filling moments," she said.
During that last decade, she has photographed close to 3,000 animals at no charge.
“I’m only capturing the work of a whole village of people," she said. “That just feeds your soul.”
The animal lover feels an obligation because that one image could capture someone's heart.
“You never give up on an animal," Huddleston said. "This is their chance to be shown in their best light. And if you give up on it they might not get another shot at it.”
Social distancing means fewer people are meeting dogs and cats in person. With RAL relying on virtual meet and greets, Becky Huddleston's photos are essential.
“She captures some amazing images," Thomas said. “It is absolutely lifesaving what she does. Because she is helping us promote these pets and getting them adopted.”
With rescue groups buckling under the weight of COVID-19, Huddleston said she is more dedicated than ever.
“All of the resources we have to help the animals is drying up but the pet population is not drying up," she said.
Snapping more than just cuddly Kodak moments, Becky Huddleston is a photographer helping homeless animals sparkle in the spotlight and survive another day.
“It's almost like a calling," she said. "You know you just love them. They’re just wonderful little beings and they depend on us. They’re really at our mercy.”
This story was originally published by Greg McQuade at WTVR.