Lewis and Clark Humane Society (LCHS) volunteer photographer Chris Martin is being honored as an “Unsung Hero”.
Famed dog trainer Victoria Stilwell and the Petco Foundation surprised Martin on March 12 with a $10,000 grant for LCHS.
The Petco Foundation’s Unsung Heroes campaign honors individuals for doing extraordinary work and who are dedicated to saving animals in their communities.
Martin is one of only five people in 2019 to receive the honor.
“We recognize unsung heroes in rescue because of the incredible work they do,” said Stilwell. “Not just for the animals that they get adopted but for the communities as well.”
Each week Martin takes high quality photographs of the animals at the shelter who are in need of finding their forever home.
Martin said it’s important to capture each animal’s best side.
“This can be a scary place, especially when they get picked up as a stray or lost their family,” said Martin. “A lot of shelters are interested in full body shots. What we do more often than anything is take animal head shots or portraits trying to grab a little bit of their personality. “
For the last seven years Martin has volunteered more than a thousand hours capturing and editing 3,500 pictures of the animals.
“I love the shelter. I love these people. I love the opportunity,” said Martin. “It’s probably one of the most gratifying things I do. I hope it never stops.”
Stilwell, best known for her international TV series “It’s Me or the Dog,” told MTN it has been a dream come true to recognize extraordinary people like Martin.
“Chris’ dedication to helping rescue animals is something that really spoke to us,” said Stilwell. “For seven years he’s taken pictures of dogs that might not necessarily have had a chance to be adopted. As he said, getting people down to the shelter is the first step.”
LCHS executive director Kelsee Dalton said Martin’s work has had a tremendous impact on the shelter and changed the lives of countless animals and families in the community.
“He manages to capture the personality of each animal in a photo. We are a better organization because Chris Martin is on our team,” said Dalton. “This gift from the Petco Foundation is huge and we are so grateful. Every single dollar we receive at LCHS goes right back into the hard work that we are doing.”
Martin’s photographs and a list of all animals available for adoptions at LCHS can be found on their website.
Now in its second year, Unsung Heroes is a online video series that showcases individuals going above and beyond to help animals.
The 2019 series will be published in May.
-Reported by John Riley/MTN News