After adopting her deaf dog, Sadie, and learning that many dogs are put down each year for being deaf, Melissa wanted to create a photo book to raise awareness and to educate people about deaf dogs. She was volunteering at her local shelter at the time and soon learned more about the problems facing shelters in the U.S. It wasn't long before Melissa was thinking about a second book -- this time on rescued dogs. So, what started out as a one-book project soon turned into a four-book project. Since she started photographing for the first book in 2009, Melissa has traveled across the country several times and photographed dogs in nearly every state for her photo books. Almost all of the dogs in her books were adopted by the time they were photographed. Each book contains portraits and short biographies of each dog. Melissa photographed the dogs in people's living rooms, basements and garages, at doggie daycares, pet boutiques and dog-training facilities all across America. She finished the final book in the series in 2013. The books (Deaf Dogs, Rescued in America, Pit Bulls & Pit Bull Type Dogs and Puppy-Mill Survivors) all raise awareness about the pet overpopulation problem in the U.S., encourage pet adoption and promote kindness and compassion toward animals. Melissa has since created calendars, notecards, and a print series based on the dogs in the photo-book series. Her books have won a total of six independent publishing awards.