The devastating campfire that tore through Northern California last November was the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in state history. Eighty-five people lost their lives in a blaze that burned down the town of Paradise and surrounding neighborhoods. It took 17 days to stop the fire that consumed more than 150,000 acres of land and 18,000 buildings, most of them residences.
The fire took nearly everything from the people of Paradise, but a recent campaign from Lincoln Motor Company aimed to give survivors something back: their lost dogs. Lincoln teamed up with popular dog photographer Elias Friedman, aka The Dogist, and the North Valley Animal Disaster Group (NVADG) to help reunite the pets of Paradise with their owners.
Friedman, whose Instagram feed featuring portraits of dogs boasts 3.4 million followers, traveled to Paradise to witness the devastation, meet rescuers and survivors, and photograph the animals rescued by NVADG to raise awareness and help return the dogs to their rightful owners.
“It’s my job to tell the story of dogs, and dogs that need help are part of the story,” says Friedman from behind the wheel of a Lincoln Navigator in a five-minute documentary film created by Hudson Rouge about the project. “My mission is to photograph them and try and get them back in homes with their families, where they belong.”
The film documents Friedman’s journey as he talks with survivors and rescuers and photographs the strays to showcase on social media channels.
“First thing I can do is just tell the story,” he adds. “I have a huge audience, so they’re going to react to it. Someone might see a picture and say, ‘I know that dog.’ ”