NEWTOWN, Conn. — Newtown photographer Sarah Matula has made it her mission to encourage people to adopt animals from shelters when deciding on new pets.
In her first-ever photography exhibit, "Shelter Pets - Changing Perceptions," Matula has created a collection of images intended to challenge some preconceptions about what defines a shelter pet. The exhibit will take place on July 9 from 3-5 p.m. at the Bethel Public Library.
The free exhibit will include a meet-and-greet with some of the Danbury Animal Welfare Society's adoptable animals. Light refreshments will be served.
All of the animals in the 20 photographs in the exhibit are either adoptable or have already been adopted. There will be information on each animal featured in the photographs. All of the photographs are for sale.
Matura's photography will be on display at the library throughout July.
"I've always been an animal photographer, said Matula, 40, who is originally from Bournemouth, England, and came to the United States in 2013. "While I used to do photography for fun and friends, once I moved to the United States I found out how bad the shelter pet problem is and wanted to do something to help.
"I learned that each year, around 1.2 million dogs and 1.4 million cats are euthanized in shelters -- that’s over 7,000 per day. The Humane Society estimates that 2.4 million of these animals are healthy and adoptable."
She explained that through her images, she wants people to understand that a shelter pet is just a pet who doesn't have a home yet. They are not broken in some way.
Many people have never been inside a shelter and have only seen commercials of a sad pet in a shelter cowering in a corner, she said, "And it's very hard for them to then imagine that animal being a fluffy member of their family."
If adopting a shelter pet is not an option, Matula said people can help shelter pets in other ways, including by fostering them, volunteering at a shelter, donating supplies for shelter animals or spreading the word about the cause on social media.
Showcasing shelter pets at the exhibit is very beneficial. "If people meet the animals, it gives the animals a chance to show their personality and show that they can be a fantastic family member," she said.
The Bethel Public Library is at 189 Greenwood Ave. For more information on Sarah Matula and her photography, click here .