Beauty of Shelter Dogs Photographed in New Book by Florida Photographer


We have all heard the age old adage “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” How often things appear ugly or unworthy to those that never take the time to look beyond the surface and see the inner beauty.

So many people look at a stray dog and immediately feel fear, disgust, or worse, apathy. They see the lonely, forgotten dog as nothing Portrait of a Shelter Dogbut a nuisance. They use words like “mangy,” “dirty,” “ugly,” etc, and shun the poor creature. They think the same of shelter dogs in the capacity of “Why would I want someone else’s castoffs?”

Have you ever walked through a shelter and looked at the dogs on the other side of the cage door? You will be greeted by beautiful eyes filled with hope looking back at you. You will experience the gentle, polite wag of a tail. In each one is the innate desire for someone to see them as they really are; worthy of love and a home to call their own.

Erica Polites, a professional photographer in south Florida, took the time to study and photograph shelter dogs at three different rescues in Palm Beach County. She spent hours each week photographing them and learning their stories.

The result was a beautifully designed book entitled Portrait of a Shelter Dog. The best way to describe the book is “a visual celebration of shelter dogs.”

The book allows these animals to have a voice if only in portrait form and lets them share their stories of abuse, loneliness, abandonment, and heartache.

Erica challenges readers to look beyond the hair loss, skin damage, mange, crooked faces, or signs of cruel treatment and knowing who they are, flawed as they might seem.

In reading Erica’s well-crafted tribute to the shelter dog you experience the natural perfection of every dog’s soul. You also feel her intense love for her topic. Erica has had a deep commitment to animal advocacy throughout her entire life. She has felt a strong need to educate people about animals and become an animal advocate believing this is a necessary component in stopping animal abuse and neglect.

This filled her with a natural inclination to take pictures of those dogs who were once someone’s adorable, much loved puppy reduced to a downtrodden, forgotten dog whose heart and spirit is broken.

She has also seen firsthand the lack of protection that our lawmakers extend to shelter dogs and farm animals.

It is Erica’s deepest hope that her book Portrait of a Shelter Dog will draw attention to the beauty and gentle nature of shelter dogs and the need to care for those among us with no voice.

To order a copy of Portrait of a Shelter Dog, go to

There is always more that can be done for the protection and well being of our domestic animals at the hands of humans. Visit your local shelters, adopt a shelter dog as opposed to buying from a breeder, or volunteer your time or money to them.

To contact or donate to the three shelters whose dogs were used in this book, please visit their websites:

Palm Beach County Animal Care and Control

Peggy Adams Animal Rescue League

Big Dog Ranch Rescue

“Our lives begin to end the moment we become silent about things that matter.”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr.

Suggested by the author: A dog’s journey


About the Author

Denise Carey-Costa has been a lifelong advocate for animals. She has written numerous children’s books promoting kindness and compassion for all creatures and raising awareness for the plight of unwanted animals. Denise tours with her books to schools and libraries teaching the importance of spaying and neutering your pets, adopting a shelter pet and how to report animal cruelty. Visit and all other book retailers to see books written by Denise Carey-Costa.


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