TODAY   |  July 21, 2013

Older dogs get second chance thanks to photographer

Photographer Lori Fusaro began taking photos of dogs available for adoption after volunteering at a local shelter. “My goal is to capture their personality,” she said. Through Fusaro’s photos, many dogs, especially some older ones, have found new homes. NBC’s Jill Rappaport reports.

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>>> families adopting a four-legged friend from an animal shelter often only look at the puppies, never even glancing at the older dogs. as jill rappaport shows us, one woman is using photography to give those more senior dogs a second chance.

>> who wants to wear a wig?

>> reporter: she loves dogs so much, she made it her day job .

>> i am a professional pet photographer. i love it.

>> reporter: taken plenty of photos of pampered pets but her most important clients are the ones that need her most. six months ago she began vl tearing at a local animal shelter , working with senior dogs. a worker showed her photos used to promote dogs up for adoption.

>> oh, my gosh. they look like mug shots. sad, tragic photos don't work. most people see that and they don't want to look at it. they look away .

>> reporter: so lori put her professional skills to use.

>> oh, there's that handsome face.

>> my goal is to capture their personality. people can look at them and say, oh, wow, that's a family dog . i could bring her home.

>> when we first saw lori 's photos, all of the staff, including all of us in management here, we were just astounded, because you're seeing in a photo what you know you see whenever you deal with the animal in person.

>> currently, there are over 7 million pets in shelters across the country. almost half will never make it out. a vast majority are older animals, given up by their owners in the twilight of their lives.

>> something about an older animal that has been left to die alone in a shelter, that was just something that i couldn't allow to happen.

>> reporter: now older dogs have really benefited from the change. in just the last month, five dogs have been rescued or adopted because of lori 's photos.

>> my photos show smiles and joy and that really seems to be the magic formula .

>> reporter: jill rappaport, nbc news.