By Chris Wright, The News On 6

BARTLESVILLE, OK -- A Washington County animal shelter is bucking a national trend. While adoptions are down across the country, a shelter is using photography to enhance the image of its homeless pets.

The SPCA reports shelter dogs and cats often get a bad rap. They have turned to a professional photographer to help change that and it's working.

Every Monday afternoon, you will find Sherry Stinson at the Washington County SPCA. She and her associates volunteer their time to take pictures of some occasionally difficult subjects.

Pictures of the pets up for adoption are then uploaded to the SPCA's web site. The idea is to make the dogs and cats more appealing to potential owners. Sherry says that's something generic photos cannot accomplish.

"A lot of people think that shelter animals are dirty, stinky, icky dogs that they can't see in their home. By having the portraits we've done, it makes them see that this dog is beautiful," Stinson said.

The SPCA says the professional portraits are working. Since Sherry started posting the photos this summer, web site hits have jumped from 2,000 a month to 12,000 and some of the dogs and cats have become rock stars.

"We get people coming to the shelter now from Tulsa, from Wichita, Kansas and other surrounding states asking for the animal by name," says Richard Parsons of the SPCA.

Adoptions are not up in Washington County, but they have not dipped either. Officials say that is not the case at SPCA's nationwide and they say it is Sherry's photos that are making the difference.

"I'll know it's been a job well done when my services are no longer needed because it means everyone's got a home," Stinson said.

Sherry says getting the perfect shot is not easy. After all, many of the animals are not used to the spotlight, the attention, or the love. However, that does not mean they do not deserve it.

"They need to find a home, you know. They need to find a home," says Stinson.

This month alone, 90 dogs and 34 cats have been adopted at the Washington County SPCA. If you're interested in helping increase those numbers, you can start by visiting the Washington County SPCA website, www.wcspca.org.