Forget about buying purebred puppies from a kennel. There are many dogs and cats in need of forever homes at animal shelters throughout Fairfield and New Haven counties, according to Bankwell, the local bank.

That’s why Bankwell has embarked on its Bankwell Pet Adoption Project, to create awareness about the animals that are available through the shelters.

Bankwell branches will feature photographs and information about available dogs and cats, which will also be previewed on the bank’s website through May. The Bankwell branches will serve as collection points for a “wish list” to benefit the Connecticut Humane Society, and a list of those items will also appear on the bank’s website.

“Since the program began, seven dogs have been adopted. We can’t trace exactly how they learn about the dogs, but two of the shelters said that our program increased their traffic by around 75%,” said Diane Knetzger, marketing director for Bankwell.

The project was the brainchild of Lynne Gomez, Bankwell’s executive assistant to the CEO, who worked with Bankwell in Wilton branch manager Ann Mitrione and marketing assistant Lucy French to get the program off the ground.

The animal portraits were made by local photographer Michael Bagley.

Bagley is passionate about animal rescue and devotes hundreds of hours each year working with animal shelters and rescue organizations to photograph adoptable dogs and cats. Over the last 10 years, he has volunteered his time to photograph tens of thousands of shelter animals seeking a home.

Bankwell has partnered with Animal Haven, ROAR, STARelief and Pet Assistance, Stamford Animal Shelter, Red Leash Rescue, Strays & Others, Little Black Dog Rescue, One More Dog Rescue, Lexi’s Angels/Shaggy Dog Rescue, Sunshine Golden Retriever, and the Connecticut Humane Society for this project. Pet Pantry has generously offered to provide a free gift basket for the home of any pet adopted during the program and also serve as a collection point for the Connecticut Humane Society “wish list.” Additionally, Canine Training & Behavioral Services in Wilton will offer a free 30-minute consultation for anyone who adopts a dog during the Bankwell Pet Adoption Project.

The Bankwell Pet Adoption Project reflects Bankwell’s commitment as a community partner to the real-life values that support “banking well for good,” said David Dineen, executive vice president and head of community banking. “With the resounding feedback we’ve received, and the fact that seven pets have already been rescued since we launched the program, we feel that it’s a very important initiative, and we’ll keep the Pet Adoption Project alive as long as we can through continually updated photos and information in our branches and on our website. At this point, there’s no end in sight for the good we hope to do.”

For photographer Bagley, it has been a great privilege.

“When Bankwell first approached me, I thought it was a fantastic idea. I have been photographing rescue animals for a long time, and I know that anytime we can shine a light on the needs of homeless pets it will make a difference. I have been incredibly impressed by the level of commitment that the Bankwell team has made to the Pet Adoption Project. Whether it’s coordinating and attending photo shoots, spreading the word through traditional and social media, or welcoming neighbors into their branches to generate excitement about helping needy animals, Bankwell has shown that it is truly a community bank. I couldn’t be more proud to partner with them, and I look forward to continuing our joint efforts to help homeless pets find their forever families,” Bagley said in a statement.

More information may be found at mybankwell.com.