A picture is worth a thousand woofs - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

A picture is worth a thousand woofs

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Shelter dogs in need of a new home have often been kicked around, and a local photographer says she knows just how they feel.

In the competitive world of animal adoptions, image is everything, and that's why certain shelter dogs are going glam.

From weird noises to whistles, Tammi Michaels knows how to get her shot. Tammi owns Heart Dog Studios, and offers professional photo shoots to local shelters and rescue groups for free. The goal is to help dogs in need get noticed, and turn adorable into adoption.

"First impressions are everything and so you want to make a good first impression," she said.

To do that, Tammi stays one step ahead of the dogs with a language of her own.

"I have the greatest job in the world," she said.

Despite the occasional dog slime attack, watch a 30-minute shoot and you'll see Tammi's timing and dog dialogue is precious.

Even though the money shots pile up, if they are pound puppies, the pictures are free.

"Dogs have given so much to me, it's my way of giving back," Tammi said.

Tammi was born with spina bifida, and says as a child she was relentlessly bullied and teased for her disability.

"Dogs were always my best friends. I could come home and cry and go out hiking with my best friend and it would make everything better," she said.

Now she's making hard-luck dogs shine.

"I just really love showing the beauty in these dogs. I mean, my motto is every dog is a work of heart, and these dogs that are sitting in a shelter just waiting for forever homes are truly works of heart," Tammi said.

Along with being voted best pet photographer in San Diego, Tammi has won top honors the past three years running at the San Diego County Fair and yes, she loves to take pictures of birds, horses and cats too.

Tammi Michaels is available for private photo shoots as well, starting at $200.

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