Photographer helps pet owners deal with loss with photos of animals in their last days

(Kristin Zabawa)

Saying goodbye to pet is a hard thing to do, but one woman hopes to ease the pain of losing a family member by giving pet owners the chance of immortalizing that bond with their animal with a free photo session. See the heartbreaking portraits she's made below of the animals in their final days.

Photographer Kristin Zabawa of Portland, Oreg. works to capture the bond of beloved pets in the final stages of their lives with their owners. And she does it all for free.

The photographer told ABC News that for her it's all about capturing the essence of a pet. When Zabawa goes to a session, she comes "with no judgment and no expectations."

"Just like when a human companion dies, there are laughter and tears in the reminiscing," she said. "They [the owner] will tell me all about their pet, how they met, the funny things that happened over the course of a lifetime, how they [the pet] helped you during hard times."

The photos, she said, are all about "honoring a life shared together."

To continue her work full time, Zabawa recently founded SoulSessions, a photography service to help people say goodbye to their pets. She hopes to turn it into an official non-profit organization, and is accepting donations via Indiegogo so that she may continue her work pro bono.

But Zabawa wants people to know, whether they're in Portland or elsewhere in the world, "they should think about setting up this kind of photo shoot" before the end comes.

"It's a hard place to go," she said. "When they [her subjects] contact me, they know the end is near. That's a courageous act."

And no matter if the light's not perfect, she said. It's just about capturing the moment that illustrates the bond.

A bond, Zabawa said she believes, "does not go away with death."
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