A woman living on the eastside of Tucson is making a big difference for for adoptable dogs from clear across town.

Suzan Irby Freibert paints portraits of the dogs at Pima Animal Care Center on the westside, to help more people notice them so they can ultimately find homes.

“I love it. I really enjoy it,” Freibert said. “I get a lot of great feedback from the portraits. People love them. It just kind of presents the dogs another way.”

Freibert has been painting her whole life, but this new passion project only started this spring, when she went to PACC to volunteer.

“The amount of dogs that are there was just so stressful,” she remembered. “And I know it’s stressful for them, and it’s just hard to even walk down and look at them all, because there are so many. So I tried to think of a way to get people to stop and look. I figured if i did portraits, it would kind of capture the dog’s personality, it would capture their potential, and then maybe somebody would stop and look and consider that dog.”

Now, sitting at her kitchen table each morning, Freibert has painted more than 150 one-of-a-kind works of art, each based on a photo the shelter workers and volunteers send her.

“I’ll tell you what, when you’ve done 150, you really see the dogs. You really see their beauty and they’re all so unique,” she said. “I really like to bring that out in them.”

Freibert goes to PACC every week now to hang the portraits she’s done on the dogs’ kennels, hoping to inspire their future owners

“I love it when they want to take the portrait home, it’s just very fulfilling,” she said. “And we also use them on social media. I didn’t even realize that when I was painting, I thought it would just be for the kennels, but we use them on social media and hopefully get them adopted. I just want them all to get home.”

In each post on Facebook and Instagram, Freibert also shares in-depth descriptions of each dog, highlighting their personalities, and what’s behind their eyes.

“You see all kinds of things,” Freibert explained. “You see older pets that have been turned down that are heartbreaking. Some fare a little better than others. You see the ones that are just really afraid, like Fred, who I painted. He broke my heart. I usually paint happy dogs, but he wasn’t giving me any happy expression, so I decided it was time to show the truth of what a lot of these dogs go through, from stress until they shut down. So my goal is just to get them seen. Get them out, get them fostered. That helps so much, to even just get a break from the shelter, and eventually adopted to wonderful homes.”

Thanks to the attention from Freibert’s painting, the lab mix, Fred, is out of the shelter and in a foster home, but he’s still up for adoption.

That’s why she’s painting more portraits every day, with no plans to stop anytime soon.

“My goal is to get to 500,” Freibert explained. “Because that is their limit there at PACC. And I would like to do a collage of 500 dog portraits to show people what 500 dogs look like.”

“We have a crisis at PACC and other shelters. We need people to spread the word to get these dogs adopted. Be responsible for your pets. Spay and neuter your pets. And there are so many ways you can help. You can just share social media if nothing else. You can donate to PACC, you can donate to your local rescues, and adopt don’t shop. I can’t stress that enough. Just come out and check out the dogs at PACC. They’re wonderful. They really are.”

To keep up with Freibert’s work, you can follow her on Instagram, PACC_Portrait_Artist. She also does commissioned work, but if you adopt one of the dogs she has painted, of course you get the portrait for free.