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How Pixel is helping pups find their fur-ever homes

Photos of three dogs; the first one has a wheelchair attachment for its back legs. Another off to the right-hand side has three legs. The dog in the middle is framed by a Pixel phone.

Every dog deserves a home, and while the pandemic spurred a surge of adoptions, things have slowed in the following years.

Something that can help? A great pet picture. According to the ASPCA, good photos can make a big difference in helping shelters find dogs a new home. “We are a company of dog lovers at Google,” says Leanne Johnson, head of social media for devices at Google. “When we learned what a difference a quality photo can make, we knew the Pixel 8 Pro would be able to have a real impact.”

That’s why we’ve recently introduced Pixel Pawtraits, a program that provides photography kits to select animal shelters across the U.S. so they can take high-quality pictures of dogs and help them get adopted. Each kit includes a Pixel 8 Pro, camera stand, backdrops, a “Pawtrait Guide” for getting the best pictures and — of course — dog toys.

The Pixel Pawtrait program helps shelters show their dogs in the best possible light.

Pixel photography allows even amateur photographers to take great shots of pets, and that was a key motivating factor in the partnership. “A lot of people who work at shelters or volunteer with organizations like ours are not professional photographers,” says Lauren Botticelli, executive director of The Animal Pad, an all-breed, nonprofit dog rescue in San Diego. “Many shelters do not have professional equipment by any means, and maybe don’t even have a solid place to take a photo.” Google Photos tools like the AI-powered Photo Unblur can help capture even the most active dogs, and Magic Eraser can help remove messy background details to keep the focus on the star of the show.

A Retriever looking at the camera with its mouth open against a light blue background taken using a Pixel.

Lexie mugs for the camera in a Pixel 8 Pro Pawtrait for Animal Haven.

The program specifically wants to give a virtual glow-up to dogs who are most in need, like those who have been in shelters for long periods of time, older dogs who may be in poor health or have disabilities, medium or large dogs, dogs with dark coats and dogs with lower adoption rates (like Pitbulls, Labrador Retrievers and German Shepherds).

Since the program kicked off in mid-November, the Pixel Pawtraits team has been on the ground at shelters in San Diego, New York and Atlanta, with plans to visit more in the coming weeks. Shelters are selected based on a variety of criteria, including each shelter’s mission, whether it's a nonprofit and most importantly whether it is a no-kill shelter (meaning healthy or treatable animals are not euthanized based on time limits or capacity).

“When the personality of a dog can come through in a photo and somebody can really connect to them, that's what gets their foot in the door for rescue,” says Lauren, who runs The Animal Pad’s social media pages. “And that can be the game changer for everything.”

A Shepherd mix taken on a pink background using a Pixel phone (left). A black lab mix taken on a light blue background using a Pixel phone (right).

Pluto (left) is looking sharper than ever, and Sergeant (right) is a lab mix looking for a good home.

A close-up shot of a black dog smiling at the camera on a blue background (left). A gray dog looks at the camera on a pink background (right).

Polly Pocket (left) and Olive (right) pose in their Pixel Pawtraits for Independent Animal Rescue.

If you’re part of a shelter that would benefit from Pixel Pawtraits, you can apply to be part of the program using our form.

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