INSPIRE: JOSH LIDDY
JOSH LIDDY WITH SWAY
My life was forever changed by my own encounter with a Pit Bull back in 2001. I was lucky enough back then to cross paths with this stray dog who came timidly out of a cornfield and directly into my life. This ended up being Sway. I took her in, and she was my absolute best friend and shadow from the moment that I picked her up. So in complete truth, that’s where all of my love and passion for this particular type of dog comes from, and I’ve been advocating for Pit Bulls in some capacity since that very day. I love all animals, but when you share your life with a Pit Bull, you see firsthand how all of the obstacles that are placed in their way play out. This is extremely disheartening and unfair, and I decided to do something about it.
I had seen on Facebook how numerous individuals were lending their time and skills to photographing and then networking these shelter pets over the Internet, and how for some pets, those actions helped save their lives. By nature, I’m a pretty creative person—I have a background in both photography and graphic design—so I thought this was a good way that I could volunteer my time, benefiting something that I genuinely care about.
So my photography and networking efforts started in August 2010, when I created a Facebook page www.facebook.com/swaylove for networking shelter dogs; then a few months later I went live with the website of the same name, www.Swaylove.org.
After I was actually onsite at my first Los Angeles animal shelter, I quickly realized that the sheer number of impounded Pit Bulls far outweighs all of the other breeds of dogs combined. This was the moment that I decided to photograph the dogs consistently and to focus on the Pit Bulls specifically. Not only are they grossly discriminated against by the general population, but they are marginalized in all sorts of other ways—all unfair, and all leading to them being killed first and most often. At the end of the day, I want to bring awareness to the realities of what these dogs, Pit Bulls, are up against. I want to start conversations that eventually lead to people seeing Pit Bulls for what they truly are, great dogs.
Anyone can do what you see me out doing. All you have to do is just care about the animals. I tell people all the time that I’m not special. If you’re inspired by me in any way, my hope is that you would grab your camera and go visit your local shelter. Once you step through those doors, you will hopefully be called to take an action. If you’re not a camera person, just take treats; if you don’t have treats, then just spend time with the dogs. Time, genuine concern, and love are priceless for these dogs—most of whom will be passed by without anyone stopping to look at them. That may be the only compassionate interaction that dog receives in the entire day. That’s very important on a basic level.