Every year, almost 3 million dogs are killed in shelters across the United States. According to the Humane Society of the United States, that is about one every 11 seconds. As shocking as that statistic may be, it is still just a number to many people. Shannon Johnstone is trying to change that.
Johnstone is a photographer and professor, and her new project, Landfill Dogs, is saving dogs that are facing death, one at a time.
Johnstone is working with Raleigh, North Carolina's Wake County Animal Center, which takes care of 350 animals and takes in as many as 35 a day.
Each week, Johnstone takes one dog out of the shelter to be the focus of her project. “As part of this photographic process, each dog receives a car ride, a walk, treats and about two hours of much-needed individual attention. My goal is to offer an individual face to the souls that are lost because of animal overpopulation, and give these animals one last chance,” Johnstone says in a statement on the project.
She take the dogs' photos in a landfill. "The landfill site is used for two reasons," Johnstone's statement reads. "First, this is where the dogs will end up if they do not find a home. Their bodies will be buried deep in the landfill among our trash. These photographs offer the last opportunity for the dogs to find homes."
Time is running out for these dogs. “I thought that photographing the animal while it was still alive was important,” Johnstone said.
“That way, the animal still has a chance. It hasn’t been marked for euthanasia yet, but it is running out of time. I thought this would allow the viewer to connect with the image and hopefully be moved to some type of action, whether it be adopting, volunteering, donating, or even just sharing a photo.”
So far, the project -- which is scheduled to last for 18 months -- has been a big success. As of November 8, 45 of the 66 dogs Johnstone photographed have left the shelter and gone to permanent homes or rescue groups. Five dogs have been euthanized, and 16 are currently waiting for homes.
For information on adopting any of the "Landfill Dogs," go here.
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