When Suzanne Donaldson purchased two adorable Morkie puppies from a pet shop, she didn't anticipate contempt from her dog-loving friends.
Edie and Clair, Donaldson was sure, could only evoke happiness.
"The backlash I experienced from purchasing these dogs is not what I expected. I thought I would be welcomed into the dog community," the creative consultant told HuffPost over the phone. Donaldson admits she purchased her dogs naively. "Had I been more aware, I would have chosen a different path." It didn't take long for Donaldson to learn about the horrors of puppy mills -- where many of the pets sold in puppy stores come from -- and the importance of dog adoption and rescue.
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (ASPCA), dogs bred at puppy mills are often severely neglected and unhealthy: "Unlike responsible breeders, who place the utmost importance on producing the healthiest puppies possible, breeding at puppy mills is performed without consideration of genetic quality. This results in generations of dogs with unchecked hereditary defects." At puppy mills, money is prioritized over animal welfare, and as a result, the animals are often subjected to second-rate lives.
Fortunately -- as it is said -- knowledge is power. While Donaldson wasn't going to abandon her newly purchased pups for rescued ones (the Maltese-Yorkie hybrids quickly found a way into her heart), she became determined to find alternative ways to raise awareness around animal welfare. Her website, Mrs. Sizzle, which launched Wednesday, June 11, will serve as a resource for animal lovers and a space that will inform readers how to help animals in need.
Donaldson spent the last 12 years as the executive photo director for Glamour Magazine, so it makes sense that the site is infused with aesthetically pleasing visuals from her artistic eye. "I didn't leave fashion. I'm using what I've done for so long to propel building something I'm passionate about," the photographer says. Unlike the ASPCA's heart-wrenching Sarah McLachlan commercials that make you misty-eyed (those, of course, are effective in their own right), Mrs. Sizzle aims to be lively, fashion-forward and fun. Donaldson wants the site to reflect the relationship dog owners share with their pets. "People's entire disposition changes when they talk about their dogs," she says.
An adoption photo taken by photographer Richard Phibbs for the Humane Society of New York
This "curated dog show," as Donaldson refers to it, is set to feature stories, photos and information (mostly New York-based, for now) to celebrate animals and raise awareness around rescue. Right now, the site features a rescue story from Arianna Huffington's daughter, Christina, poignant adoption art from photographer Richard Phibbs and a quick glimpse at Lena Dunham's pup, Lamby.
Dunham's dog, Lamby
Anyone can contribute to Donaldson's cause: She's driven to feature rescue stories, photos and products that support and celebrate animals. The site also highlights a "rescue of the week," a feature that adoption agencies can use to promote the loving dogs and animals who are in need of a good home.
Christina Huffington's rescue dog, Lucy, adopted from No Kill Los Angeles (NKLA)
And because you're wondering: Cats, too, will headline on Ms. Sizzle. While the idea stemmed from her love for the canine variety, Donaldson ensures all animals are welcome. "There are so many animals that need rescuing: Cats, elephants -- all animals need love and attention."
Head over to Mrs. Sizzle for a fashion-forward experience that'll make your tail wag and leave you drooling.