Star Wars characters pose with shelter pets for a unique spin on a classic photo shoot.

What's better than super-cute pictures of animals?

Super-cute pictures of animals PLUS STAR WARS.

That's right — in a recent photo shoot, the Ottawa Humane Society used the Force to show off some of their adorable adoptable pets.


A Stormtrooper holds a cat, and the cat is clearly unsure about all this. Image via Rohit Saxena.

Wait, what's going on here?

Good question. The Ottawa Humane society, a charity that helps more than 10,000 animals each year, recently teamed up with photographer Rohit Saxena and the all-volunteer 501st Capital City Garrison to make this series of rescue pets with Star Wars characters.

Here's Garindan, the greatest spy in Mos Eisley, holding a guinea pig. Image via Rohit Saxena.

The point of the series was to showcase the pets in fun, positive ways.

The group also wanted to reach a different audience than a typical photo series would.

"This was all in the name of doing something a little different from our standard adoption pictures."

"This was all in the name of doing something a little different from our standard adoption pictures," Saxena explained. "Given the global, overwhelming response, I think we've made progress."

A Tusken Raider — one of the Sand People — cuddles a cute little kitty. Image via Rohit Saxena.

Hmm, is there a "dark side of The Force" to rescue pets? Aren't they unhealthy and misbehaved?

Short answer: No! That's a complete myth.

Saxena even shared his own rescue dog story with me: "We adopted a rescue dog named Sprocket 4 years ago, and it's no exaggeration to say he's everyone's best friend in our home and neighborhood. ... Everyone seeking a pet should visit and support their local shelters, and at least consider shelter adoption — you'll be a hero in the eyes of your pet."

C'mon, even Mark Hamill thinks shelter pets are awesome (OK, I'm reading between the lines here):

As for how the shoot itself went, Saxena said, "We've gotten pretty good at comforting reluctant animals long enough for a quick picture, or even knowing when to let them take a pass. That said, the animals were a brave bunch that week ... so we had a surprisingly smooth photo shoot."

"We've gotten pretty good at comforting reluctant animals long enough for a quick picture, or even knowing when to let them take a pass."

Another Stormtrooper takes a break from being "a bad guy" to walk their cute pooch. Image via Rohit Saxena.

About 7.6 million companion animals enter shelters in the U.S. every year.

Yeah, 7.6 million. But the situation is far from hopeless. You can make a huge difference by volunteering with your local shelter, adding your own rescue pet to your family, or even just making sure your pet is spayed or neutered.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with one final image — of a guinea pig battle.

All three characters join together for a battle of guinea pigs. What, did you miss that scene in the movies? Image via Rohit Saxena.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."

Photo by Adelin Preda on Unsplash

A multinational study found that bystanders intervene in 9 out of 10 public conflicts.

The recent news report of a woman on a Philadelphia train being raped while onlookers did nothing to stop it was shocking and horrible, without question. It also got people discussing the infamous "bystander effect," which has led people to believe—somewhat erroneously, as it turns out—that people aren't likely to intervene when they see someone being attacked in public. Stories like this uninterrupted train assault combined with a belief that bystanders rarely step in can easily lead people to feel like everything and everyone is horrible.

But according to the most recent research on the subject, the Philadelphia incident appears to be the exception, not the rule. A 2019 multinational study found that at least one bystander (but usually more) will actually intervene in 9 out of 10 public conflicts.

The idea that people in groups aren't likely to intervene stems largely from research on the 1964 story of Kitty Genovese, a 28-year-old woman who was stabbed to death outside her apartment in New York, while dozens of onlookers in surrounding apartment buildings allegedly did nothing. However, further research has called the number of witnesses into question, and it appears that several did, in fact, call the police. Someone reportedly shouted out their window and scared the attacker away for a few minutes, and someone did rush to Genovese's aid after the second attack.

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