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Halloween photo shoot for pets benefits Columbia Second Chance

Sunday, October 11, 2009 | 3:50 p.m. CDT; updated 1:18 p.m. CST, Friday, November 6, 2009
Photography assistant Cathey Clark, right, gives a treat to Pierre, dressed as PePe Le Pew, while Pierre's owner Rachel Wilkinson, far left, tries to get him to pose for a portrait on Sunday, Oct. 11. A Halloween photo shoot at Award Pet Supply was held to benefit Columbia Second Chance. All proceeds from the photos will go to the animal rescue organization.

COLUMBIA — When it comes to modeling, Lucy is a bit of a diva.

Sometimes going through several costumes changes at a shoot, Lucy has worn bikinis, french maid costumes and ballerina skirts. This past Sunday, she modeled a Wizard of Oz-inspired outfit, down to ruby red toenails. When she walks into a room, people call out her name — at least in some circles.

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"She's lost some weight," photographer's assistant Cathey Clark said.

Lucy, a poodle, is one of many pets that gathered at Award Pet Supply for a photo shoot benefiting Columbia Second Chance, a privately funded animal rescue organization. Owners brought their pets, many dressed in Halloween costumes, to capture a memory and help a cause.

"A lot of the reason I do it is for Second Chance," said Donna Ponder, 60, who dressed her poodles, Lucy and Casper, as Dorothy and the Tin Man, respectively. "And of course, I scrapbook too."

Volunteers arranged a bale of hay, pumpkins and plants against one wall. A jealous Malakin cockatoo named Coral chirped as dogs bustled about on leashes. Some pets came as they were, while others wore creative costumes, including Superman, a bumblebee and famous cartoon characters.

"This is Pepe Le Pew," said Rachel Wilkinson, 30, as her poodle, Pierre, circled her feet. "He's a romantic Frenchman."

Owners laughed as they tried to position their pets in front of the camera, many turning their back sides to the photographer.

"Oh, that's not your best side," photographer Orville Clark, 41, said to Casper the poodle, who was more interested in sniffing a decorative pumpkin than looking at the camera.

With the photographer, his assistant and several volunteers surrounding the pets, it sometimes took 15 minutes to get a perfect shot. Cathey Clark uses a variety of tricks gained from much experience cajoling the pets into posing.

"It's a matter of letting them relax," Cathey Clark said. "Sometimes we use a squeaker or feathers. And for the food-driven dogs, we shake treats."

At one point, Cathey Clark covered herself in the floor sheet and held onto an unruly miniature Dachshund, Boo, who wouldn't stop squirming and licking her face. His owner laughed.

"I knew he would be the troublemaker of the group," Barb Rains, 55, said.

Each shoot, which includes one 5 by 7 inch print and four wallet-sized prints, costs $10. Additional pages are $5, with all profits donated to Second Chance.

In the past, they made $2,000 at one Christmas event, said Bobbi Everitt, 60. Bobbi Everitt co-owns Award Pet Supply with her husband, Chuck Everitt, 70.

Shortly after opening the store in 2000, the Everitts partnered with Second Chance to host photo shoots twice a year. Starting with Christmas and Halloween, the service became so popular, they started hosting Valentine's Day, Easter and Fourth of July shoots as well.

The first year of the event, the Everitts adopted their dog, Joe, from Second Chance.

"They opened the crate, and he ran and got a short rib and came and laid down at my feet," Bobbi Everitt said, pointing to a picture of Joe hanging on the wall. "He chose me."

The Clarks, who have been photographing the pets since 2000, also adopted three cats and two dogs from Second Chance.

"We started out with two cats," said Cathey Clark, now a dedicated Second Chance volunteer. "Now we have nine pets."


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