Thursday, January 23, 2014

Landfill Dogs deserve love too

Quinn is waiting for a home after 592 days in the shelter

I try not to dwell on the pure horror show that is our society's throw-away attitude toward dogs. The municipal disposal of unwanted animals happens, for the most part, out of public eye in unassuming buildings with little in the way of signage. We may as well call these places, "We Don't Want to Know." Most people don't know the first thing about the animal control policies, facilities and employees of their given city. Though many shelters are open to the public for adoption, too often folks turn to other avenues like breeders, pet stores and "free to a good home" ads because going to a shelter is "too sad." And it is sad. But "avoiding sadness" isn't a good reason to turn your back on these dogs. Or to perpetuate the overbreeding that causes our horrible overpopulation problem. Dogs deserve better lives than this.

Greyson is waiting for a home after 520 days in the shelter

That's why I love the Landfill Dogs photo project so much. Mary Shannon Johnstone's photographs of dogs at the Wake Forest Animal Center in Raleigh, North Carolina force viewers to confront a stark reality. One that certainly isn't going to change just because we as a society refuse to acknowledge it. But she does it in a way that doesn't make us avert our eyes in shame and sadness. These photos are beautiful and captivating. They evoke something these dogs desperately need people to see in them: potential.
From the artist's statement about the Landfill Dogs photo project:

"The landfill site is used for two reasons. 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.

The second reason for the landfill location is because the county animal shelter falls under the same management as the landfill. This government structure reflects a societal value: homeless cats and dogs are just another waste stream. However, this landscape offers a metaphor of hope. It is a place of trash that has been transformed into a place of beauty. I hope the viewer also sees the beauty in these homeless, unloved creatures."

Channa is waiting for a home after 108 days in the shelter
Please visit the site and take a look at these pups experiencing a few hours of pure peace, freedom and joy. Read their stories. For some of these dogs, this photo shoot will be a rare and much needed respite from the noise, cement and cyclone fencing of daily shelter life. Or the last moment of freedom before their time runs out. But for those who've been adopted as a result of this project, these pictures represent the moment somebody really saw them outside of the context of shelter life. Thank you, Mary Shannon Johnstone, for using your amazing talents to help those who can't speak up for themselves. 

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