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The Weekend Shift

The Pitbull Princesses

Nate DiMeo

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(Duncan the pound dog)
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Katya Lidsky knows it can be tough for her models. Take Jane, for instance -- today, she's got to sit on a hot sidewalk, across from a clattering, moaning dairy processing plant, wearing nothing but a Hawaiian lei.

Lidsky moonlights on the weekends snapping quasi-glamour shots of shelter dogs. She adorns her subjects with bandanas, tiaras, pink boas... Some might think she's one of those crazy dog lovers, but Lidsky likes to thing her work is an idiosyncratic response to an insane situation.

Last fall, she came across this disturbing video about conditions at a "puppy mill," and she became sort of obsessed -- especially when she learned about L.A.'s overwhelmed shelters. Last year those shelters took in 26,000 lost and abandoned dogs. And despite a huge and pretty successful effort to make the shelters kill-free, it had to euthanize more than 6,000 of them. "I thought there had to be something I could do," she says.

Lidsky, who works in online advertising, thought that maybe she could do something to make those sad, scared dogs more adoptable. So just about every weekend, she's at the shelters, trying to catch the dogs at their best.

She says there's a fine line between being a dog person and a "crazy" dog person, and she's struck the right balance in her in life. If shelter dog in a costume seems a little silly, so be it -- there are signs her strategy is working. The other day, a couple came in asking after a mutt named Duncan, and adopted him. They thought he looked nice in a tiara.

More stories from our The Weekend Shift series


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  • By elaine gerstein

    From new york city, NY, 03/17/2008

    Thank you for briging such an important and beautifully written story to the attention of the public.

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