The NWT SPCA is bringing a whole new meaning to the word catwalk by enlisting the help of a local photographer to take shots of its animals up for adoption.

Dana Martin, vice-president of the NWT SPCA, came up with the idea to bring in a professional to photograph the animals.

"I wanted to get something really nice going on with the photographs," she said.

"We'd been using our iPhones and odds and sods cameras. We're not photographers, so we don't know really what we're doing. If we get a good photograph, it's by accident. And I wanted to take it off my plate."

The hope is that these slick shots will increase adoptions. It’s worked elsewhere.

Lisa Prince-Fishler founded a non-profit in New York called HeartsSpeak that pairs artists with shelters.

"Typically if you go to a pet adoption site, you will see a lot of pictures of animals that look scared," Prince-Fishler said.

"Shelter staff don't have the time to take the photos that show them in their best light, bring out their personality, show them in a more relaxed manner."

Prince-Fishler doesn't have numbers, but said she's sure professional shots up adoption rates.

During the NWT SPCA’s first shoot, local photographer James MacKenzie took photos of about 30 dogs and eight cats.

mi-dana-martin-nwt-spca

Dana Martin, vice-president of the NWT SPCA, came up with the idea to bring in a professional to photograph the animals. (James MacKenzie )

"This experience has been really awesome," he said. "My first time out here was three hours straight of just photographing all the cats and dogs they have out here. There were about a dozen puppies in a row where I just wanted to take every single one of them home. It's a little heartbreaking."

MacKenzie said getting the animals to co-operate was sometimes a challenge.

"Some like treats, others like toys, or you snap your fingers at them. It's a learning curve. You’ve just got to be patient with them and eventually you get the photo that you're looking for."

MacKenzie will return every two weeks to photograph the new animals arriving at the shelter.