FORT MYERS, Fla.-- They say a picture's worth a thousand words. But if you ask a dog-- and it could talk-- it would tell you a picture may be worth a second chance at life.
One local pet rescue is turning photos into "fur-ever" homes for dozens of dogs.
Lily, a spunky American Bulldog mix, is the newest member of the Constantine family.
"She's just the most amazing addition to our family," said Jodi Constantine of Fort Myers. "I feel completely and utterly blessed."
But the search for Lily didn't start at a pound or a pet shop. It started online, where a few clicks on Facebook revealed a photo of a dog in need of a fresh start.
"It was those eyes, that face. I don't know, but I just knew," Jodi explained of the first time she laid eyes on Lily. "It was hook, like and sinker. Done. Over. And she's just a joy."
Besides her new owners, Lily also has Ginger Monteleone to thank for her new life.
Ginger is a professional photographer, but her job as a full-time dog lover only started about a year and a half ago.
"I got into the dog world because I got my first dog," Ginger recalled falling in love with her dog, King.
Her new passion for pooches-- especially larger breeds-- led the Miami-based photographer to start the Big Hearts for Big Dogs Rescue with Fort Myers resident Trinity Hansen.
"We really wanted to help the dogs that needed our help," Hansen, a long-time Southwest Florida resident explained. "I love big dogs. I think they're the greatest dogs ever."
Their rescue operation spans from one coast to the other-- from Miami Beach to Marco Island-- all in the hopes of of finding homes for the furry ones among us.
In fact, the first time the women met in person was while transporting a dog from the east coast to the west coast.
"We met in the middle of Alligator Alley," Trinity recalled. "I devote every spare minute to fostering, training, anything I can do to help a dog"
But sometimes, all the hard work isn't always enough. The heartache of watching some dogs go unsaved inspired Ginger to turn to what she knows, photography.
"I thought, 'Well maybe if I take some photos of these dogs it will help them get adopted. Help them get noticed'," Ginger said.
Ginger's photos show a dog's promise and personality. But also some of their pain.
"I try to get a story through their eyes," Ginger explained.
"Our most powerful tool is Ginger," Trinity said. "The pictures that she takes, I mean, she got me. She got me at hello with that first picture."
The rescue duo says Facebook and other forms of social networking has been another key asset. Every time they post one of Ginger's photos, dozens of their Facebook friends share the images on their personal pages, and then other strangers continue passing them along.
The women hope to show dogs of all shapes, sizes, ages and breeds, deserve a chance at a loving home.
"Shelter dogs aren't broken. They're not damaged. They're experienced and wise and special," Trinity said.
And Ginger thinks they're grateful, too.
"I think the ones that I've saved remember," Ginger explained. "They probably think, 'This lady made me feel better. I was sad or I was stuck here and she brought me home and spoiled me with treats'."
If you're interested in seeing what dogs are available for adoption, visit: http://www.bigheartsbigdogs.com.
The group covers the veterinary bills for all dogs before putting them up for adoption. If you'd like to donate, please visit: http://www.wix.com/whatapittie/big-hearts-for-big-dogs#!donate
To view more of Ginger's work, visit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigheartsbigdogs/.
For more information on pet adoption and valuable resources, visit: http://www.aspca.org/adoption/.