During the week, Diane Staib can be found at Upham's Elder Service Plan in Dorchester, where she works as a geriatric social worker. On the weekends, she is usually roaming around the neighborhood, camera in hand, looking for the perfect shot that will become the latest addition to Under Dog Cards, a collection of greeting cards featuring local photography.
Diane donates about 10 percent of the proceeds from Under Dog Cards to the Boston Animal Rescue League, which she says is integral in creating responsible pet owners and preventing animal cruelty.
Diane came up with the name Under Dog Cards after discovering Dorchester's dog fighting rings. She would come across aggressive Pitbulls and Rottweilers in the neighborhood, underfed and ragged, their ears cut by their owners to make them look tougher. She used the Boston Animal Rescue League to intervene and save the dogs from abuse.
While working in the Dorchester and Roxbury communities, Diane said she often sees animals on the street and in her patients' homes that need help as well. Dogs that stay chained to fences in the backyard for days, reptiles without proper habitats, nine cats in one house fighting for food and water.
"I'm a sensitive person," said Diane. "I see these things during the day and when I go home at night they stay with me."
Diane wanted to help, so six months ago she combined her newly realized passion for photography with her desire to improve the lives of all living things in the communities where she works. She started taking photographs of old buildings, flowers, and Franklin Park. Under Dog Cards now feature scenes from the Greater Boston area, though Diane said Dorchester inspired her original idea.
"The neighborhood is strong and people really strive to help one another," she said. "I really do find a lot of chances to take beautiful pictures here."
Based on her experiences as a social worker for more than five years, Diane knew that nine times out of 10 the animal abuse was not malicious; it came from a lack of resources and understanding of how to care for animals. "Most people aren't trying to hurt the animals," Diane said. "They get them and they don't know how much responsibility it is so they become overwhelmed."
The Boston Animal Rescue League investigates reports of animal abuse and provides education and resources to families who don't know how to care for their pets. In more severe instances of abuse, they will remove the animal and find a new home for it.
"I wanted to be able to give back and now I have a passion for it," Diane said. "I channel my energy into the cause and I think it comes through in the photos."
Under Dog Cards can be purchased at underdogcards.com or at Rhythm & Muse in Jamaica Plain. Diane has donated nearly $300 to the Boston Animal Rescue League since she started Under Dog Cards six months ago.