ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Images of animals trapped in flooded Houston homes prompted a professional photographer in Anchorage to open his studio for a pet photo shoot, raising thousands of dollars for Texas animal rescue organizations.
On Thursday, David Jensen spent more than six hours taking the pictures of more than 60 dogs. But instead of asking for a fee, he urged pet-owners to instead make a donation.
“This just happened three days ago, I thought, what can I do? I have a free day here in the studio, I don't have other appointments so why not go ahead and open up the studio to free sessions throughout the day for a donation for any amount,” said Jensen.
Jensen said he initially only expected to raise a few hundred dollars after making his call to action in a Facebook post, but when the studio opened for the fundraiser, dozens of dogs were pawing at his door throughout the morning and afternoon.
At the end of the day, he collected at least $4,300.
“Since he's a new puppy, I thought it would be fun to do,” said Anchorage resident Ann Waldron, who saw Jensen’s post on social media.
Waldron has a close connection to Houston, and said she’s donated to a number of relief organizations. She said she can visualize the damage from the storm, because she moved to Anchorage from Houston four years ago, and from what she’s seen, her old home is currently underwater.
“It's a way to give back, and so we like to kind of spread it out in various ways,” said Waldron. “Here, the Red Cross [and to] various places where we know the money will go where we want it to go.”
It wasn’t a conventional fundraiser, but it was one that resonated with local animal-lovers, some of whom saw the faces of their own pets in the pictures of abandoned animals left without food or safe shelter.
“I can't imagine being in that kind of situation and being separated from my animals,” said Gina Hollomon, waiting in line with her dogs Beebop and Henry.
The studio shut down operations well after the 4:00 p.m. closing time, with Jensen refusing to turn away any late animal owners.
Jensen said he hasn’t decided which organization will be receiving the money but is choosing between the SPCA of Texas and the Humane Society of the United States, among others directly assisting with “boots on the ground rescue and care efforts in Houston, Texas.”
The high turnout of dogs, birds and even a snake caught Jensen by surprise. He said if the interest persists, he'll consider opening up again to do a second fundraiser shoot for Houston next week.