Pay It Forward: ICAC volunteer helps pets strike a pose

    Rebecca Hooper (right) is responsible for all the pictures of animals up for adoption at the Iowa City Animal Center. Hooper has volunteered at ICAC for five years.

    Rebecca Hooper leans in to look closer at the sign hanging off a cage.

    She finds the name of the cat sitting on the other side of the glass, then looks up and smiles at the feline.

    "Charlie!" Rebecca coos.

    Chances are she won't forget the name or the face.

    "I'll run into someone on the street walking their dog - and I'm like, 'That's Sophie! I have photos of her on my computer!'" she exclaims. "'I don't mean to be creepy - but let me explain why!'"

    The rationale is that Rebecca is the personal photographer for potential pets at Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center (3910 Napoleon Lane), where she has volunteered for five years.

    "Becca was here before me - so I have learned from her," ICAC program director Lisa Bragg says. "She does so much behind the scenes. She takes these photos here at the shelter - but what they don't see is her editing and all of her computer work on the website and uploading pictures."

    "It's always different animals. There's always something new," Rebecca says. "I'm always learning something about behavior."

    "If I can get a photo of an animal that latches on to someone and gets them adopted, then that's kind of the best feeling."

    It's the kind of work looking for a perfect moment - all to find a perfect home for animals that need it.

    "It's all about image, right? It's a quick 'I've got two seconds. You've gotta show me exactly what I want to see,'" Lisa says. "And Rebecca - I think - is really good capturing that from the animals."

    "I'll run across people and they're like, 'Look! I adopted this cat!' And they'll take my picture that I took that's on the website and they've downloaded it to their phone," Rebecca says. "And they're like, 'Look! Isn't he cute?' I'm like, 'Yeah, he is! That's great!' It's awesome."

    A memory that continues to have an impact on her.

    "I'm giving myself goosebumps right now," she says, feeling her arms. "It's just really gratifying."

    Rebecca gets $300 to donate to a nonprofit through the CBS2/FOX28 Pay It Forward series. She'll be giving that money to the Friends of the Animal Center Foundation - the support system for ICAC.

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