Photographer Shoots Portraits of Shelter Dogs on Death Row

For the past two years, 37-year-old photographer Tou Chih-kang has been capturing the last moments of dogs at Taoyuan Animal Shelter in Taiwan. His roughly 400 portraits show the dogs — most of them abandoned by their owners — moments before they’re put to sleep. His mission is to raise awareness and encourage responsibility among pet owners:

I believe something should not be told but should be felt. And I hope these images will arouse the viewers to contemplate and feel for these unfortunate lives, and understand the inhumanity we the society are putting them through.

70% of dogs in Taiwanese animal shelters are euthanized after a brief 12-day waiting period, and it’s estimated that around 80,000 dogs will be euthanized year alone — a high figure for a country that has a human population of only 23 million. Tou’s project, titled Memento Mori
, can be seen here.

Taiwan photographer’s crusade: Doomed shelter dogs [USA Today]

Image credits: Photographs by Tou Chih-kang

  • mark tecson

    wow that’s some pretty dramatic stuff.

  • Julian Maytum

    Love the idea. This is a horrendous issue worldwide that will only be combated by education and personally I believe greater accountability and punishment for owners. Nice job and great idea!

  • Nicholas Butler

    Damn, stole my idea.. but I wont stop doing it..

  • Dazam

    I’ve spent the last 4 or 5 months trying to adopt or rescue a dog. It’s not that easy.

    We would finally find a breed we’re looking for, jump through their hoops, visit the dog, answer the surveys, write the essays, then be turned down at the last minute for one reason or another.

    This would repeat itself over and over until we finally had enough of the games and went out and selected a puppy from a breeder. (Which according to some makes me a terrible person.)

  • Joey Duncan

    Maybe your area or state is different. I’m pretty sure I have a friend who went and got a dog from a shelter the same same day they looked at them. Already had shots and everything. (California)

  • Joey Duncan

    I just looked at his pictures on his site. It’s sad that people turned his last image into a meme unrelated to his work. :-(

  • Dazam

    We did visit the shelters, which are a great place to go if you’re looking for an adult Pit Bull. Not so great if you’re looking for a Wheaten Terrier or Portuguese Water Dog.

  • Mary Lundberg

    Use Petfinder! All you need to do is put in the breed that you want and it will bring up a list of rescues with those breeds. I just did a search of Wheaten Terriers the other day and there are many.

  • dumplin1010

    why search for a specific breed? so many mutts are the best dogs!

  • rubieseyes

    It’s like looking into the eyes of a person who has dreamed great
    things, been dragged through hell, then just feels ready to move on from
    this world no matter what lies beyond…

  • Gary Wagstaff

    The sad reality is that for most of these dogs, their “crime” was simply being born.
    They killed no one, they attacked no one, but were to much to keep.
    And just for the record…I am not some “tree-hugging vegan nut case” but cruelty is cruelty, regardless of ones outlook or, perceived, rank on the food chain.

  • Alba

    is truth cruelty is cruelty! dosen’t matter how many they rescue ,the matter is in the end they kill animals, and where is the point to save them when those people kill for stupidity reason!? dog and cats can be adopted and the time is too short for been adopted, this this shelter don t understand and another things injection and gas chamber should be banned . When this will BE BANNED WILL BE A GOOD DAY, TILL THEN NEVER WILL CHANGE WITH THIS IGNORANT PEOPLE!