Professional photographer and owner of Fusaro Photography, Lori Fusaro, is a longtime advocate for homeless animals. Her motto: “No dog should die alone.” Lori also volunteers her time at overcrowded animal shelters in the Los Angeles area. Her photographs of older cats and dogs improve their chances of adoption. Older pets give us their unconditional love and the lasting gift of joyful memories.
Her clients include many animal rescue organizations such as BAD RAP, Guide Dogs for the Blind, K9 Connection, and Angel City Pit Bulls. Lori lives in California with her husband, Darrell, their two rescue dogs, Gabby and Mr. French, and their two cats, Francis and Enzo.
I discovered Lori’s work while researching my latest book about adopting older and special needs pets. Lori was the photographer for the book, My Old Dog: Rescued Pets with Remarkable Second Acts. Her book cover photograph of an older dog caught my eye. Lori truly captured the dog’s gentle face, kind spirit and loving heart in that one photograph.
I’m happy to share Lori’s interview with you!
Dr. Pet Mom: Please tell our Dr. Pet Mom pet parents community about your photography business. How long have you been a photographer? Tell us about the different types of photos you take.
Lori Fusaro: I have been a photographer for about 25 years. I started out shooting everything! Events, family portraits, kids, weddings…but my heart was always with pets. Back then very few people hired a photographer just for their pets.
About 10 years ago I started volunteering at shelters and rescues. I knew that animals was where I wanted to put my time and energy and so I took the leap and focused only on animals. I’m happy I did and have never looked back.
Dr. Pet Mom: How did you develop an interest in photography?
Lori Fusaro: I’ve always had an artist streak in me. I was bored one day and picked up a camera and started playing around. I fell in love that day.
Dr. Pet Mom: Do you specialize in taking animal photos? Why did you choose older animals to as your subject?
Lori Fusaro: I do specialize in animals. I chose to do the book (My Old Dog) about old dogs because of Sunny, a dog I adopted from the shelter. She was 16 and I couldn’t bear the thought of her dying alone in the shelter, so I brought her home.
My vet said she was very sick and would probably only live six to eight weeks. She ended up living for three years! And she seemed to come back to life. She started playing and running and jumping on the couch. Within a few months you wouldn’t believe her age.
Because of her, I wanted to let everyone know that just because a dog is older, doesn’t mean they don’t have a lot of life and love to give. I wanted people to give senior dogs a second chance, just like I did with Sunny. Mr. French was about nine when I adopted him. I will always adopt older dogs now.
Dr. Pet Mom: When did you start taking photographs of older rescue animals?
Lori Fusaro: I would photograph a few here and there if they were in the shelter or with a rescue, but it wasn’t until Sunny that I developed my passion for seniors.
Dr. Pet Mom: What is the most rewarding part of being a photographer?
Lori Fusaro: When a client tells me that I captured their pet’s personality! That’s awesome. Or when a person sees one my adoption photos and comes in to meet that animal based on my photo. Really cool! It makes me happy that I can be that first step in that animal finding a home.
Dr. Pet Mom: What is the most challenging part of being a photographer?
Lori Fusaro: Getting the animal to cooperate. Haha Not all pets are trained or want to sit still.
Dr. Pet Mom: Tell us about the work your do with animal rescue groups.
Lori Fusaro: I work for Best Friends Animal Society and am in charge of taking all the adoption photos for every animal that comes in. Last year that was about 4,000! I also take fun photos of them and photos of them in their new homes…pretty much whatever is needed.
Dr. Pet Mom: What do you hope to accomplish with your photos of older dogs and cats? How do you think your photos help people learn more about animals?
Lori Fusaro: For my rescue photos they get to see the animals that are available for adoption. I want to show the beauty and life in them. Capture their sweet personalities and let folks know they deserve a second chance at a happy home. I still get emails from people who have read the book and have adopted an older animal. It really makes my day.
Dr. Pet Mom: Tell us about some of your favorite projects working with animals.
Lori Fusaro: I love it all. The most recent one that stands out is a shoot I did with a dog named Tyson. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. It’s a fast moving cancer and Tyson doesn’t have much time with us.
We wanted him to live out the remainder of his life in a home so we did a photo shoot of him and his “bucket list”. There were all kinds of cool things listed, but at the top of the list was find a foster home. He did…from the photos! That was pretty amazing.
Also on his bucket list was play fetch with a Major League Baseball player. Wouldn’t you know it? A player saw the bucket list photo on Instagram and arranged that very thing. I got to go with Tyson and his crew to Dodger stadium and photograph him playing fetch with Justin Turner.
Dr. Pet Mom: Tell us about your pets at home.
Lori Fusaro: Mr. French is my dog. He’s a Chihuahua-Poodle mix. I always thought he was Chi mixed with Boston Terrier but I got his DNA done and I was surprised to find him part Poodle. But I have to say I’m convinced he is a cat! His personality is all cat! He doesn’t bark. He doesn’t like to be picked up. He tolerates being pet. Haha I call him my dog-cat.
Enzo is my cat…and he is like a dog! He comes when he’s called. He greets me at the door and loves affection. He sleeps next to me at times. The complete opposite of Frenchie! He’s a giant Maine Coon and looks like a lion.
Dr. Pet Mom: What are some of your future projects to help rescue animals?
Lori Fusaro: I don’t have any specific projects in the works…just continuing what I’m doing now.
Dr. Pet Mom: What are some of the best things people can do to help older rescue animals?
Lori Fusaro: Give them a home! That is the best thing to do. Haha But if people aren’t able to adopt then volunteer at a rescue that specializes in older dogs. Donate comfortable beds. Pledge money to help with any needed surgeries. Visit local shelters and walk the seniors, or sit with them in the kennel. Just give love in any why you can.
Dr. Pet Mom: Do you see a trend in adopting older rescue animals?
Lori Fusaro: I do! It’s very exciting.
Dr. Pet Mom: What do you like most about being a photographer?
Lori Fusaro: I love the creativity. I love being about to use my talent to help animals. I love creating images that families cherish forever.
Dr. Pet Mom: What is the one thing you wish you knew when you started taking photographs?
Lori Fusaro: I wish I had known how much I would love it…I would have started sooner. LOL
Dr. Pet Mom: What do you like least about being a photographer?
Lori Fusaro: Honestly there is nothing I don’t like. It’s my passion. And the fact that I am able to combine my creative passion with my love of animals is a dream come true.
Dr. Pet Mom: Why is photography important to you? How does photography inspire you?
Lori Fusaro: Photography is a craft that captures moments in time. It allows memories to be created and put in an album or hung on the wall. It allows people to share their experiences with others. Photography captures ordinary moments and makes them extraordinary. And that inspires me.
Dr. Pet Mom: How do you educate yourself to take better pictures?
Lori Fusaro: I’m always trying new things. I take classes. I play around with new technology and gadgets. It’s important to stay fresh.
I look at other photographer’s work that inspires me and learn from them. I’m lucky to have many photographer friends and we often shoot together. It’s fun and keeps up learning.
Dr. Pet Mom: Lori, thanks so much for this interview. Your wonderful photographs are helping older animals find their forever homes! Best wishes!
I hope you enjoyed the interview! 😎
Dr. Pet Mom
“Clearly, animals know more than we think, and think a great deal more than we know.”
–Irene M. Pepperberg