Yes, they are cute, but…

Yes, they are sweet, soft, furry and beyond adorable. Every year I get many calls wanting to know about easter sessions with live chicks and bunnies and every year I decline and here is my reasoning.

1. The use of a live animals in photography requires a license from the federal government’s USDA and most states. These are two different licenses which must be renewed each year. See compliance under Licensing and Registration Under the Animal Welfare Act.

2. A part of the permitting and licensing process includes an inspection by the federal government’s USDA offices. This is mandatory, even if your state does not require a license or permit. Different states may have different licensing and inspection requirements as well, however the Federal Government can get you into some serious trouble if you fail to obtain your license.

3. Even if it is just one animal, a license is required. The inspectors may also be required to be present during the photo session. If any animal is hurt, injured or killed, the fines are serious and a they can ban the photographer from actively doing business permanently.

4. Animals are often brutalized by pulling, choking, squishing, yanking and being sat upon by little clients. This is obviously no fun for the little animal.

5. Rabbits are delicately structured animals whose spines can snap just from being held improperly and their legs and ears can be broken or severely damaged without much effort at all. Keep in mind that the legs and wings of chiclets can easily be pulled off and broken by a child who doesn’t know how careful to be. Some rabbits become so stressed they will die of heart failure right on the spot.

6. Animals often panic when handled by children; a frightened rabbit or chiclets can bite and scratch, causing lacerations, deep scratches and puncture wounds to your clients children. These can lead to infections, skin rashes and other diseases.

7. Bunnies and chiclets carry diseases such as Salmonella, which is devastating to small children.

8. Tularemia or “rabbit fever” is even more dangerous.

9. PETA actively engages in looking for these activities during the year, especially on Facebook. They have successfully lobbied the largest photography studios like Sears, JCPenney and Olan Mills to stop the use of live animals. And, I promise you, they are on the look out on Facebook for images that photographers post, call and check licensing and WILL file complaints against the photographer. It’s as simple as calling the USDA and asking if a photographer is licensed. You can also report animal cruelty on PETA’s website.

10. The PPA, Professional Photographers of America, the largest association of photographers in the world, takes a HUGE stand against this.

11. You can be sued for injury, infections, damages that occur to anyone in the session.

12. The shoot can become quite haphazard if your little clients are chasing bunnies and chiclets. That means you are chasing your client. This, along with the frustration of the child because the animal is not cooperating, the frustration of the parents because the child is not cooperating and the frustration of the photographer because NO ONE is cooperating is not conducive to the best shots ever. Plus, editing out scratches on the face and body parts of your client is an added workload.

The above “12 reasons” were written by Marcelle Raphael of Souther Belle Studios