Double take! Doggie makeovers reveal shelter pets' true, happy selves

Before and after photos of Alana the dog Courtesy of GreaterGood.org

Never underestimate the transformative power of a nice bath, a new hairstyle, a professional photo shoot and a good belly rub.

Shelter dogs across the United States are showing off their true, happy, confident selves thanks to an effort to give them doggie makeovers and plenty of pampering. Twenty-five of the most dramatic makeovers are being showcased in a “Dirty Dogs Contest,” which is allowing people to vote online for their favorite before-and-after photos through July 31.

The contest is sponsored by Wahl, a pet-grooming products company, and GreaterGood.org, a charity that focuses on the health and well-being of pets, and the idea behind it is simple: to highlight all the amazing pets available for adoption at animal shelters.

“We want to help people start to think of a shelter, or a rescue group, as a happy place — as a place to go first,” Noah Horton, director of operations at GreaterGood.org, told TODAY.com. “These are places where you can find a wonderful pet to take home with you.”

Before and after photos of Wilson the dog Courtesy of GreaterGood.org

To increase shelter animals’ odds of finding homes, Wahl donated more than 1,000 bottles of pet shampoo and, along with GreaterGood.org, helped spearhead grooming and photography training at 150 shelters around the country.

“So many of the pet-adoption photos you see online are super sad and super blurry, with sad animals in cages,” Horton said. “We wanted to teach shelter staff and volunteers that the way you groom and photograph your pets has a noticeable effect on your adoption rates.”

Before and after photos of Vita the dog Courtesy of GreaterGood.org

Shelters that received grooming products and training were invited to submit photos for a Dirty Dogs Before & After Gallery, and hundreds of photos and stories have been shared there. Many dogs featured in the Before & After Gallery are available for adoption, and 25 dogs in that gallery became finalists in the Dirty Dogs Contest.

The top three dogs to get the most votes in the contest will earn cash grants for their respective shelters or rescue groups. First place will get $5,000 and second and third place will get $1,000 each. Winners will be announced on Aug. 2.

Check out this photo gallery to see astonishing ambush makeovers of the furry variety:

  • Slideshow Photos

    Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    What a difference a bath can make! Millions of shelter dogs across the United States just need a little bit of grooming and pampering in order to shine, as evidenced by these photos.

  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Arlene -

    What a difference a bath can make! Millions of shelter dogs across the United States just need a little bit of grooming and TLC in order to shine, as evidenced by these photos. The 25 dogs pictured here are featured in Wahl and GreaterGood.org’s Dirty Dogs Contest. Voting on before-and-after photos continues through July 31, 2014.

    Arlene was found with long, matted fur, skin infections and eye infections. She had given up on life until she got rescued from a shelter by Lucky Dog Animal Rescue in Arlington, Virginia. Volunteers got her all cleaned up and helped her to heal, and now Arlene has been adopted into a loving home.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Alana -

    Alana was severely matted when she got surrendered to Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League in West Palm Beach, Florida. She couldn’t be vaccinated right away because it was impossible to get a needle through her fur, and she had to be completely shaved down.

    Once her grooming was complete, a sweet dog emerged who was much younger than she initially seemed. She has since found a permanent home.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Apple Schnoodle -

    Apple is an adorable schnoodle (poodle/schnauzer) who loves her new haircut. In fact, her new hairstyle seems to have been a fountain of youth for this sweet girl, who is acting younger and younger than her 10 or so years. She’s now looking for a permanent, loving home through Homestretch Hounds in Ohio.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Boo -

    Boo was found on the side of the road soaking wet and stinking of urine. She was so matted her back legs were stuck to her belly and she couldn't walk. A good Samaritan found her and brought her to the CARES Community Animal Rescue & Educational Shelter in Florida. After she got cleaned up and groomed, she weighed just 2.8 pounds and looked adorable.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Chili -

    Chili was a victim of long-term neglect. As his before picture shows, he was filthy and matted when he arrived at a shelter in Michigan. Volunteers at the Humane Society of Midland County jumped into action and got Chili some much-needed grooming, and he became a whole new dog. Chili is happy and enthusiastic about life again, and he’s always eager to crawl right into someone’s arms. He has found a permanent, loving home.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Dinky -

    When Dinky first got saved from a hoarder situation, he looked much older than his actual age. The 2-year-old dog came to Ninna's Road to Rescue in Louisiana with severe matting, a flea infestation and overgrown nails. He received a complete shave-down and once his hair started to grow in, he transformed into a gorgeous, happy boy.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Dolly -

    A woman spotted a severely matted and dirty poodle scrounging for food from trash cans in the Los Angeles area. She called on rescuers for help, and volunteers with Hope for Paws and the Forgotten Dog Foundation managed to give the dog the help she needed. They dubbed her “Dolly” and rushed her to a groomer, who shaved her and removed 10 pounds of matting from the 15-pound pooch.

    Once in a foster home, Dolly began to thrive, and before long she was adopted into a loving home.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Fluffington -

    Fluffington came to Brooke’s Legacy Animal Rescue in Naples, Florida just before he was about to be put down at a shelter. He was missing hair from a flea infestation and needed lots of TLC. After a thorough grooming, he looked like a completely different dog and got adopted quickly.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    George -

    When volunteers with Pit Sisters rescued George from Animal Care & Protective Services in Jacksonville, Florida, the dog had severe skin issues and was very skinny. He has since gained considerable weight and his fur is slowly starting to grow back. “Curious George” has an amazing personality. He loves people and will tell you so by trying to have little conversations with you every day. He also loves to play with his toys and run around.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Gigi -

    This young shih tzu came to the Animal Rescue League of Iowa in pretty bad shape. The group’s groomer helped Gigi look and feel much, much better.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Howard -

    Howard was one of 33 dogs rescued from a hoarding situation on June 13, 2014. His hair was so terribly matted that it took volunteers at Maryland’s Allegany County Animal Shelter more than three hours to shave him. But the great news is that a shelter board member fell in love with Howard and adopted him. His new mom says he is blossoming into a sweet, wonderful boy.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Skippy Too -

    Skippy, a poodle mix, was found wandering around town with fur so matted that he couldn't see. After he arrived at Ridgecrest Animal Shelter in California, caregivers spent most of one afternoon clipping him and bathing him. Now he’s a new dog!
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Stitch -

    Meet Stitch! He is a 2-year-old poodle/Maltese mix who is sweet, playful and happy. When the Pet Rescue Center saved him from a shelter in Orange County, California, his fur had been colored a light pink. Today, Stitch has a brand new haircut, which he loves showing off during his walks.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Texas Tornado -

    This dog got her name because, by the looks of her hair, she seemed like she had gone through a Texas Tornado. No one believed she was the same dog after she got groomed. She found a loving home at Hope Animal Rescue’s very next adoption event.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Treasure -

    Treasure is a 2-year-old female purebred miniature poodle. She had been severely neglected before a passing motorist spotted her and brought her to the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society on June 9, 2014. Her hair coat was so dirty, thick and matted that she could no longer walk. She was taken to a vet clinic, where she was put under anesthesia to be clipped — and a beautiful little Treasure emerged.

    At first, Treasure was very sore and had a difficult time walking, but after two months of recovery time, she became an active, happy, social and affectionate dog. She enjoys playing with other dogs and she loves to be held and snuggled.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Oscar -

    Oscar came to the South Wood County Humane Society shelter in Wisconsin as a stray. He was in need of serious grooming, and soon after his dramatic makeover he got adopted by a loving family.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Uno -

    Uno was surrendered to the Cleveland Animal Protective League by his owner. He had a skin condition that his owner had tried to treat with materials that turned out to be caustic and burned Uno’s skin.

    A veterinarian bathed and shaved the dog and began medical treatment. Uno spent several months in the home of a foster-care volunteer, where he healed and learned to trust people again. He then got adopted into a loving home and was renamed Biscuit.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Vita -

    A man found Vita, starving and close to death, in a junkyard in the Los Angeles area. He drove the dog to rescuers in San Diego in hopes that they could help Vita, who should have weighed 70 pounds but was light as a feather. They’ve spent months helping her rehabilitate with good veterinary care, grooming and a proper diet, and now she’s a new dog. She’s great with other dogs and kids, and now she’s ready to find a permanent home through Southern California German Shepherd Rescue.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Wilson -

    Before Wilson got rescued from a shelter, he was in a sorry state. The blind dog looked like ball of matted, dirty fur in his cage, but when a volunteer came to retrieve him, he didn’t cower. Instead, he trotted right out as if to say, “Where have you been? I have things to do!”

    Wilson’s grooming took some time, but it left him looking and feeling handsome and confident. He’s now full of life and waiting to find a permanent home through Pets with Disabilities in Prince Frederick, Maryland.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Ziggy -

    Ziggy was brought in to the city shelter in San Antonio as a stray who appeared to be a neglected breeder dog. He was scheduled to be put down, but San Antonio Pets Alive! stepped in and placed him in a foster home. Once he got shaved and groomed and began receiving medical treatment, his transformation was astonishing. He recently got adopted into his new home.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Clipper -

    A police officer rescued Clipper after finding him with wounds and lacerations on his leg and neck. Clipper had a torn cruciate ligament in his leg and required surgery in April. Now he's all recovered and ready to find his new family through Home FurEver. A very friendly guy, Clipper loves to go on walks and soak up attention and affection.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Mattie -

    Mattie came to the Young-Williams Animal Shelter in Knoxville, Tennessee in a state of extreme neglect. Caregivers there saw the potential in her right away, and after a trip to the groomer, the real Mattie came shining through. She has since been adopted.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Kenzi -

    Kenzi came to Cocker Spaniel Rescue of Austin & San Antonio from the San Antonio shelter as an abuse/neglect case. Her transformation is a testament to the power of tender loving care and soothing baths.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Jackman -

    When local animal control officials tried putting Jackman on the adoption floor, he had a meltdown. They contacted Foster Pet Outreach in Peoria, Illinois because they thought he needed a foster home environment.

    At first he stayed curled in a ball in the back of his cage, but after a few days in the foster home, he started to relax. Then, after he got groomed, this handsome guy emerged. He’s now happy and confident, and he’s been adopted into a loving home.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org
  • Dramatic doggie makeovers put new face to pet adoption

    of

    Nikki -

    Nikki was found chained outside in the snow with no shelter. She had severe pressure sores and was emaciated when the New Mexico volunteer group NMDOG rescued her. Today, Nikki is happy, healthy and available for adoption. For details and an adoption application, visit NMDOG’s website .

    To participate in Wahl and GreaterGood.org’s Dirty Dogs Contest and vote for your favorite before-and-after photos of these rescued dogs, visit this Facebook page. The contest continues until July 31, 2014.
    Courtesy of GreaterGood.org

Need a Coffey break? Connect with TODAY.com writer Laura T. Coffey on Facebook, follow her on Twitter and Google+ or read more of her stories at LauraTCoffey.com.

TOP