Mutts the Book Gives Shelter Dogs a Chance to Shine

South Africa, February 2018 – Award-winning photographer Emma O’Brien brings the stories of shelter dogs to life with Mutts the Book. Capturing the quirky characters, gut-wrenching experiences, hilarious antics, and heart-warming doggy smiles of rescue dogs, this book is a must-have for any animal lover. 


While it certainly puts the spotlight on the growing number of rescue dogs in South Africa and the world at large, Mutts is far more than just a beautiful coffee table book. Proceeds from the book support local rescue organisations Sandton SPCA and CLAW (Community Led Animal Welfare), while the book itself also aims to help people rethink the idea of ‘mutts’. In South Africa, there are hundreds of unwanted mixed-breed dogs in shelters across the country. Around 500 unwanted dogs are put to sleep each year in SA alone – in the US, the number is closer to 1800. The constant demand for pure-breed dogs has lead to an increase in puppy mills as well as an increase in mixed-breed dogs who are not deemed to be pure enough. Despite the popularity of pure-breeds, countless studies show that mixed-breed species are stronger, more resilient, and far less likely to fall ill from the effects of over-breeding and genetic conditions. Mixed-breed dogs are also often smarter and unique in many other ways. 


As an acclaimed portrait photographer and animal lover, Emma O’Brien has photographed pets and their owners for many years. Her frustration at seeing the large number of dogs left behind at shelters inspired Emma to find a way to speak out for the ‘mutts’ in a way that benefited dogs and owners. “Mutts the Book is my way of helping shelter dogs. By showing that mixed breed rescue dogs are unique and bring huge amounts of joy to their families, I hope to change the way people see them,” she said about the book. 


“With over 500 dogs being euthanised every day in South Africa alone, I want to do my bit to encourage people to adopt rather than buy dogs. Mutts are the underdogs, they are perceived as being inferior to their pedigree counterparts and this is something I’d like to change”.


Mutts the Book is currently available to order online at and selected Exclusive Books branches. For a sneak preview, view the official Mutts the Book video on YouTube. The sale price is R375.00. Crowdfunding took place to help raise funds for a print run of 1000 books, along with a book launch and PR campaign. Proceeds from book sales will go towards two major local rescue organisations in Gauteng. A goal of R60, 000 has been set, to be split between Sandton SPCA and CLAW. 


About CLAW 

CLAW (Community Led Animal Welfare) is a rescue organisation that provides veterinary services to dogs and cats in the poorest township areas of Johannesburg. Working closely with local communities, schools, government departments and other organisations, CLAW distributes food parcels, provides health and hospice care to animals, and facilitates home-based care programmes. They have a clinic in Durban Deep, Roodepoort, which provides urgent care to areas that have traditionally been unable to find assistance. Many of the dogs in the Mutts book have been rescued and rehomed by CLAW.


About Sandton SPCA 

Covering a large area across Johannesburg, Sandton SPCA strives to prevent cruelty to animals, helping to provide a positive contribution to animal welfare through a number of programmes and initiatives. This organisation is actively involved in awareness and outreach, helping to educate and assist local communities. They provide a pound service, collecting unwanted, lost and missing animals, and rehoming those that are not claimed. In 2016 alone, over a thousand animals were rehomed by the Sandton SPCA, which relies solely on donations to survive.


About Emma O’Brien 

Based in Gauteng, Emma O’Brien is an acclaimed photographer who has specialised in portrait photography since 2004. Moving from the UK in 2009, Emma’s awards have included the Admired in Africa 2015 Newborn Photography Gold Award, the Admired in Africa Newborn Photography Bronze award in 2016, and the Tokyo International Foto Awards 2016 Silver for pet photography, Emma has the ability to see beyond the lens to capture the essence of her subjects. She is a proud supporter and the patron photographer of the Sandton SPCA, photographing their annual calendar for the last six years, and raising over R1 million in the process. 


To view Emma’s portfolio, visit her official website at Mutts the Book and other products can be purchased at








By Kirsty Du Toit

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