Artist AnnaMarie Johnson creates portraits of dogs in need

When South Carolina artist AnnaMarie “Missy” Johnson decided she wanted to get back to painting, she couldn’t imagine exactly how it would turn out.

As it happened, she came to her decision in October, which was also National Adoption month. The longtime animal rescuer decided to combine her artistic comeback with her affinity for shelter dogs. The result is Dogs for the Paws, a blog of portraits and stories of rescued canines across the country.

“To me, each dog has a name, a story and is worthy of having it told,” Johnson tells “I wanted to be the voice.”

Through Dogs for the Paws, Johnson hopes to raise awareness for the profound affect a rescue pet can have on a family.

She has spoken for Target, the Afghan pooch who survived a suicide bombing attack and saved soldiers’ lives, then arrived in the U.S. only to be accidentally euthanized at his shelter; for Nico, a stray whose forlorn photograph sparked a national campaign to get him to his new home; for Chamberlin, a puppy abandoned by her owners and found with legs so warped she can’t walk.

Johnson’s work includes the paintings (done by commission) as well as everything from shirts to keychains to stamps, all for sale in her store.