(ANIMAL ACTIVISM/RESCUE DOGS) According to the ASPCA, approximately five to seven million pets enter animal shelters nationwide every year, and up to 4 million are euthanized—that’s one every six and a half seconds. In addition, millions more are abandoned, only to suffer from illness or injury before their untimely death.
However, many are fighting to change these statistics. One is photographer Frank Bruynbroek, who dedicated 15 years of his life into the creation of Compawssion: Portraits of Rescued Dogs. The touching collection of black and white, film portraits of rescued dogs shows audiences what it means to be a dog who has been abandoned and then rescued.
Bruynbroek was inspired to create the book after the tragic loss of his puppy Rosalie when he decided to use his talents to help the welfare of animals.
“The moment she died, I was so touched. They are such innocent beings. It’s the closest you can feel when you look at a child.” Bruynbroek explains, “When she died, I was completely naive to writing a book. I never thought of myself as a photographer, but then I made a promise.”
On his website, Bruynbroek writes, “It was time for me to give back and to contribute to a cause that grew bigger and bigger in my heart. Dogs give us so much love every day that I wanted to reach all those wondrous souls all at once.”
The 160 page compilation includes more than one hundred photographs, a foreword from prominent dog trainer, Cesar Millan, as well as interviews with twenty-five public figures from music, sports, politics, film, television, and more. These influential celebrity figures include Ellen DeGeneres, Josh Duhamel, Dr. Jane Goodall, Diane Keaton, Jillian Barberie, Kim Basinger, Jackie Chan, Brigitte Bardot, and Sharon Osbourne, who all share their inspiring stories of what it means to save and care for a rescue dog.
Actress Katherine Heigl tells her story of how she adopted her pooch: “I walked by a woman trying to get people to adopt these puppies – beautiful, beautiful dogs – that were found in somebody’s backyard tied up with no food or water and had been left there for days. That’s when I first went, ‘Oh my God. People would do that?’ One of them had gotten adopted and I wanted both of them, but I could only have the one. So that’s how I got Piper, who is just probably one of the most amazing and soulful animals I’ve ever had the privilege to own and she’s just a really, really special and unique dog.”
But despite the three chapters of poignant stories documenting such miraculous human-animal bonds, no humans appear in any of the photographs. Bruynbroek explains, “To me I wanted to feature the dogs because the stars in this book are the dogs. When you add humans, it’s usually distracting from the subject matter…we look at a picture of a person completely differently….when you look at a picture of the dog, you just go to the personality and the essence of the dog.”
In the book’s foreword, Millan writes, “To me, Frank honors their fundamental nature as animals, dogs, breeds, and finally as individuals. That is the exquisite magic of what he does as a photographic portrait artist.”
Since its release, Compawssion has seen much success including features on The Ellen Show, Good Morning America, Entertainment Tonight, and US Weekly. Through his book, Bruynbroek aims to spread awareness across the nation and possibly have the text translated into other languages for worldwide distribution.
“My dream is that there won’t be homeless pets anymore, anywhere. My hope is to see breeders with a conscience. My wish is to see all puppy mills abolished as well as all stores that sell puppies,” he explains. “An important aspect of this project is awareness and education as a means to prevent innocent animals from being killed every single day.”
The hardcover book “for the underdogs in all of us” is available for purchase on www.compawssion.com and a portion of the proceeds will go directly to no-kill animal shelters, rescue and rehabilitation centers, or service dog foundations, including the The Jane Goodall Institute, Cesar Millan Foundation, The Brittany Foundation, and several others. Bruynbroek has also produced a 2013 calendar that features photographs from the book, which also helps dogs in need.
Watch the video below for a preview of Bruynbroek’s moving collection of images.
— Alisa Manzelli, exclusive to Global Animal