America’s Best Tails Contestant: Sylvia Elzafon and Her Work with Shelter Dogs

Sylvia Elzafon is a photographer and dog lover. Her well-known work photographing shelter dogs has been featured many places – including the Huffington Post. Below is her story in her own words. Sylvia will appear on this week’s “For the Love of Dogs” with Lindsay Naccarato and Lindsay’s dog Jefferson.

This story was a $250 winner in our “America’s Best Tails” contest, with the proceeds benefitting Dallas Animal Services. 

Hello! I’d like to submit my own personal story and experience for consideration in America’s Best Tails – To benefit Dallas Animal Services and Adoption Center.

Combining my love of photography and animals is truly the ultimate path for me.

I started working on my original shelter series (found on my website and Facebook fan page) in 2005, because I saw the need for a message. This message was: “Why are you breeding animals, or buying animals, when so many of these wonderful, beautiful dogs and cats are dying in shelters every day?”

People were really beginning to acknowledge the need for education and action in the shelter world. And change. The original series was focused on evoking emotion in people, which it did. The images were dark, heavy, and meant to address a huge problem while showing the audience that these shelters really are sad places for companion animals. Though it does evoke emotion, my current Headshot Series brings attention to these incredible dogs in a different light. Instead of feeling sadness and despair, the overall reaction has been extremely positive. People are laughing – hard. They’re seeing the huge personality of these shelter dogs through the images. I’ve had a couple of friends tell me that, although they’re not “dog people”, the photos make them consider adopting one! In other words, this series is reaching people in a really fun and positive way. Though the dark and heavy images are still very important and effective in their own way, people do better when they feel better. A break from the sadness and guilt never hurt anyone. I love showing the amazing personalities these dogs have when they’re given the chance.

A special story that comes to mind is about Xena, a small, spunky pit bull mix who was brought in to the shelter as a cruelty case. She spent over 2 months at Dallas Animal Services waiting for a home. Here is her photo.

I feel it’s extremely important to show these beautiful animals in the best possible light. My hope is that the images are and will be a way for people who are considering adoption, to see the animals as more than damaged, abused, and/or troubled souls languishing in a shelter. They’ll be inspired – and they will see a wonderful new best friend!

Many thanks!

Sylvia Elzafon



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