Instagram Influencer Is Getting Dogs Adopted By Setting Them Up For ‘Dates’

Rachael Rodgers has found herself, or more specifically, her Instagram account, being followed by more than 77,000 users in recent years. Now, she’s using that visibility to spread the message of rescue pet adoption.

It all started with a picture of a dog.

Back in December 2016, Rodgers posted a picture of her dog, Denali, sitting in a canoe as they paddled through the mountains of Western Canada. It was shared by a few other canine-focused accounts. A few thousand of their followers found their way back to Rodgers, @trailsandbears, and followed her back.

“I had a lot more followers than I knew what to do with,” Rodgers told NBC News’ Know Your Value. “I didn’t really know why I had Instagram, so I kept trying to think of ways to use it or what to do with the followers, and then I just realized, ‘They’re all dog people. Why not show them dogs — dogs that need a home?’”

Source: Rachael Rodgers Photo Works
Rachael Rodgers advocates for shelter pets on social media.

Rodgers has since used photography and Instagram to bring attention to adoptable animals around her Canmore, Alberta, home. She’s helped more than 200 dogs find homes since starting the project, and made many new friends along the way.

By day, Rodgers creates digital art, some which hangs at the pub where she works as a server, Know Your Value reports.

“I think because I’ve seen it be useful, I feel responsible to do it as much as possible,” she said.

Source: Rachael Rodgers Photo Works
Rodgers takes the dogs out into nature for portrait sessions.

Her approach to this project has drawn no shortage of attention. Rodgers creates “dating profiles” for each pup, showing tens of thousands of potential parents just what life is like with these furry friends.

“That’s exactly what you want to do with the dog, is show them as you would an online dating profile,” Rodgers said. “It’s a dog in their element doing what they love to do, so that you can cut out all the not-good suitors and head right for someone who loves that kind of dog.”

Rodgers is skilled at capturing the personalities of each dog in photos. She takes hundreds of each, and shares the best on Facebook and Instagram. She also gives the photos to the shelters that care for the animals so they can use them to promote adoption in their networks.

Source: Rachael Rodgers Photo Works
Rodgers has gained more than 70,000 followers on Instagram in recent yeas due to her adorable dog photos.

Some of the dogs are dropped off at her home, others she must drive miles to pick up, then miles further to a suitable location for the shoot. It’s quite a lot of work, she says.

“The behind-the-scenes is not glamorous at all — it’s a lot of driving and a lot of editing,” Rodgers said.

However tedious it may be at times, NBC reports, Rodgers is hoping that her work is appreciated, catches on, and more importantly, gets more dogs adopted.

“I want everybody that wants to do this to know how and take all the perceived barriers out of the way and help if they can,” Rodgers said, “because I think there’s so much potential for social media for the whole system, not just an individual dog, but helping society think differently.”

Source: Rachael Rodgers Photo Works
Rodgers hopes her photos will convince others to adopt shelter pets.

And she’s always willing to share tips with other aspiring photographers, as well the importance of adopting a rescue dog, rather than buying one from a breeder.

“There’s just too many unwanted dogs,” Rodgers said. “I guess my goal is to show how amazing just any random dog at a shelter is, [and] usually I take the dogs that are harder to adopt. But if those dogs are amazing, then why get a family pet from a breeder?”

Rodgers is becoming an expert in the field of animal photography, and has even published a guide to help others try it out themselves. Her “Instagram for Adoptable Dogs,” is available for download on her website, and promises to help readers create “the perfect #pupfolio.”

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Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, going to the dog park, spending time with his daughter, and coffee.
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