NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Long Island photographer is using her camera to save the lives of pit bulls. The much maligned dogs are getting an image makeover.

You might wonder why someone would go the trouble of trying to put a crown of flowers on a pit bull, and then ask it to sit still for a photo session.

As CBS2’s Chip Reid reported, photographer Sophie Gamand is on a mission to save the lives of pit bulls who are wasting away in shelters, by showing their inner beauty.

“The flower power series is really about challenging the perception we have of pit bulls,” Gamand said.

That perception, she said, is based on a series of highly publicized incidents involving pit bulls that were trained by people to be violent. More than 550 cities and towns have passed laws restricting the dogs from their communities.

Initially Gamand said, she was uneasy around the dogs. That was before she discovered what they’re like when treated with kindness.

“They are so loving, so gentle. It’s kind of crazy to think of the public image they have and the reality of the kind of dog they are,” she said.

Today, their bad reputation has resulted in the euthanization of nearly a million pit bulls every years. Far more than any other breed.

“There’s so many loyal, good, affectionate pit bulls,” shelter director, Mike Pastori said.

At Pastori’s Hempstead shelter 70 percent of the dogs are pit bulls or pit bull mixes.

“Huge fan of what Sophie is doing, because Sophie is trying to get ride of that stereotype. What she’s doing is trying to give them a softer edge, which they really deserve,” he said.

It’s working. Many of the dogs she’s photographed have been adopted.

After 2 years in the shelter there was little hope for Brownie, but someone saw his picture and gave him a happy home. The same thing happened for another pit bull named Pickles.

Monday is National Pet Day, you can show off your pooch or kitty on social media with #NationalPetDay.




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