PetaPixel

Disturbing Photos Capture the Realities of Euthanization at Animal Shelters

Warning: This post contains strong and disturbing photos of euthanasia and animal suffering.


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Every year in North Carolina, over 250,000 animals are euthanized because there is no one willing to adopt them and care for them. This averages to nearly 700 animals killed daily. NC-based photographer Mary Shannon Johnstone has been on a mission to draw public awareness to the issue of animal overpopulation. Her gut-wrenching project, titled “Breeding Ignorance,” offers an brutally honest look at the conditions inside animal shelters and the tragedy of beautiful (and often healthy) animals being put down.

Johnstone writes, “I hope these photographs call attention to the tragic epidemic of animal overpopulation, and illuminate what happens when we don’t spay and neuter our pets.”

Cats Await Sort

Cats Await Sort

Anesthetize: Cats and dogs are anesthetized before they are euthanized. Although the sedation does not hurt, many fight because they are scared.

Anesthetize: Cats and dogs are anesthetized before they are euthanized. Although the sedation does not hurt, many fight because they are scared.

Kittens Before Euthanasias

Kittens Before Euthanasias

Purebreds: It is a myth that animal shelters are filled with mutts.

Purebreds: It is a myth that animal shelters are filled with mutts.

Dead Dogs: After dogs have been euthanized, their bodies are placed into large black plastic bags and their kennels are sanitized.

Dead Dogs: After dogs have been euthanized, their bodies are placed into large black plastic bags and their kennels are sanitized.

Cats in Freezer: Cat carcasses are stored in a walk in freezer until they can be picked up and disposed of.

Cats in Freezer: Cat carcasses are stored in a walk in freezer until they can be picked up and disposed of.

Happy Tail: Too much tail wagging against a hard surface can result in a bloody-tipped tail known as "happy-tail".

Happy Tail: Too much tail wagging against a hard surface can result in a bloody-tipped tail known as “happy-tail”.

Scared Dog Before Euthanasia 2: This dog is frightened while receiving the anesthetic before the euthanasia.

Scared Dog Before Euthanasia 2: This dog is frightened while receiving the anesthetic before the euthanasia.

Scared Dog Before Euthanasia: This dog is frightened while receiving the anesthetic before the euthanasia.

Scared Dog Before Euthanasia: This dog is frightened while receiving the anesthetic before the euthanasia.

Without a Home: Kitten anesthetized before euthanasia.

Without a Home: Kitten anesthetized before euthanasia.

You can find more of Johnstone’s photos over on her website. Be warned, though: many of the photographs are even more graphic and disturbing than the ones featured here.

The photographs in the project are divided into two subsets. One is titled Discarded Property, and focuses specifically on the topic of euthanasia. The other is titled Shelter Life, and offers a look at the conditions of animals at shelters.

Johnstone has also bee working on a separate project titled Landfill Dogs, which features portraits of dogs that are at risk of being put down if they are not adopted soon.

Breeding Ignorance by Mary Shannon Johnstone (via Feature Shoot)


Image credits: Photographs by Mary Shannon Johnstone and used with permission


 
  • AnimalLover

    Those images made me feel ill, nicely done. :-(

  • Samcornwell

    ;’-(

  • http://about.me/mitchlabuda Mitch Labuda

    And yet, many more are made each day and the shelters fill and people are shocked. Operating a dog rescue, we can only do so much. We need to spay and neuter more and reduce the pet population

  • Wilba

    “Happy tail”… that’s going to choke me up for days.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fotografiacreativa.puntodevista Fotografia Creativa PuntodeVis

    i do not like it.

  • Christina

    Why did I even click on this post knowing full well it’s going to make me upset or cry

  • AnimalLover

    You are absolutely right, most animals are euthanized because of humans making poor decisions. I am glad my local shelter is very strict about who they adopt pets to, it weeds out some of the losers.

  • http://about.me/mitchlabuda Mitch Labuda

    I volunteered at shelters and what people don’t see, is, in kitten season? Whole liters are euthanized wholesale, nobody wants them. Hundreds in a season. Dogs, shared the same fate. Liters brought in because people didn’t alter the male or female and then it’s accidental liter. Instinct is not accidental. We, the Mrs and me, operate a rescue and the phone rings and emails come in, seeking help. There are simply too many pets that need homes.

  • TSY87

    This makes me want to go out and adopt a dog or two from the local shelter… :’( Sadly I’m not in a position where pet ownership is possible/responsible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Joey-Duncan/1111692326 Joey Duncan

    All i can say is this makes me very sad… poor little guys… :-( Well one more things. PLEASE PLEASE ADOPT…. For god sake, there are cute puppies and kittahs to be had at the pound, you would be saving a life!

  • PaulJay

    Lets euthanize some humans. Too many of them doing stupid things on this planet.

  • eraserhead12

    it must be hard working at a shelter out of love and compassion for these animals, but not being able to help most.

    this makes me want to adopt 30 pets at my local shelter and become an animal hoarder for life.

  • Delfino Perez

    Can you imagine the people who have theses jobs wow my hearts in pain looking at these…

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1079180093 Tommy Sar

    Damn it…. I always “knew” stuff like this goes on, much like I “knew” where my dinner comes from. But this…. Now, I really know.

    Spaying and neutering our pets is one thing but I think the real problem is that people buy animals from breeders without much thought and then realize that pets actually require work and give them to shelter who must do the dirty work.

    Three of my friends received pets as gifts and now they don’t want them. Owning a pet is like adopting a child. It requires serious consideration. They’re not toys or accessories you can put away when you don’t feel like caring them. Don’t encourage unnecessary breedings by buying from any random breeder, especially unlicensed ones.

  • AnimalLover

    Our local shelter (where we got both of our cats) is a no-kill shelter, it’s run by the municipality and they still have a tough go of it. A couple times a year they get overrun with cats and/or bunnies.

    People need to wake up, owning a pet is the same as having a child. It’s a huge responsibly but so many people treat pets like they are accessories. They just dump their ‘beloved’ pet when they become inconvenient it makes me so angry.

  • JoanieGranola

    The main problem is that people (especially in the South) don’t care about neutering their animals. A lot of Southern States still use the gas chamber. Until people start taking responsibility for their own actions (or inaction, as the case may be), pet overpopulation and euthanasia will run into the millions every year. No living being should be brought into this world to be so cruelly taken out of it.

  • JoanieGranola

    BS – getting a dog from a breeder is not the problem. It’s ignorance and people just not caring about what happens to the babies of their unneutered pets. More often than not, people don’t want to spend the money on the surgery because “It’s only an animal.” they figure that it’s someone else’s problem, since they can “give them away” or just dump them at a shelter. I think people who surrender pets should pay a heft fine and it should be law that they get their pets neutered. What’s worse is when people either drown the animals or suffocate them or just dump them in the woods to procreate a feral colony. Breeders usually care enough (good ones, at any rate – and there aren’t enough of those, IMHO) to not have too many litters a year and often have waiting lists for puppies as opposed to breeding in the hopes of finding the animals homes.

  • DamianM

    We are overcrowding the earth.

    too many people fail to see this.

    1/3 of the world is starving.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1079180093 Tommy Sar

    I agree with everything you said. My last sentence was poorly worded. I meant people should only buy from licensed reputable breeders and not ones who do it for the money or just fail to spay or neuter their pets.

  • http://www.eriklaurikulo.se/ Erik Lauri Kulo

    And they call us humans rational.

  • http://eziz.annagurban.com/ Eziz

    Oh man :(

  • Matthew Wagg

    All of our pets have been rescue animals.
    Thank you for posting this, hard hitting images though hard to look at need to be shown to show people what being irresponsible looks like. They’d soon be up in arms if it were piles of children instead of cats in that freezer.

  • SPCArox

    Some of these shelters are way too picky though, my boyfriend and I went to a shelter (no-kill) to adopt a cat at the recommendation of one of the volunteers from their dog side (it’s a dog and cat shelter), and they basically turned us away because we lived in an apartment and we weren’t married?!! They said “we’re not the shelter for you” and refused to give us a cat. They didn’t even do an on-site visit. Had they done so, they would have found we live in a huge 2000 sqft. apt. Ridiculous. Well, we went to the SPCA and they gave us one without batting an eye.

    I’m sad to say they put a really, really bad taste in our mouths. We SPOIL our SPCA cat with so much love, treats, and the coolest cat tree ever! I was recently told though by someone who used to work at a no-kill that half the time they are that picky because if they did give away all their animals they’d have less “mouths to feed” and would receive less funding…so they sometimes intentionally keep animals with no plan to really give them away.

  • KH

    Of course something like this can really make you sad. But it also makes me happy knowing our two adopted dogs were given a second chance and possibly saved from something like this.

  • Brian

    And these numbers don’t even approach the number of human babies killed each day in the United States. Without the benefit of sedation

  • Mansgame

    I still see people defend going to a breeder so they can get a pug or other in fashion dog.

  • http://www.facebook.com/smccann27 Sean McCann

    you mean close to zero? You are right, they don’t approach that.

  • eraserhead12

    lol genocide/’mass euthanasia’ is totally the solution? I mean what can you do, enforce breeding laws?

  • eraserhead12

    reputable breeders really aren’t the problem here, and not everyone who goes to a breeder wants a, like, totally kewt puppy for their purse!

  • eraserhead12

    and let forth the misinformed spew. gee ‘Brian’, YOU don’t have to get an abortion.

  • eraserhead12

    there are so many “”outdoor cats”” in my neighborhood–meaning the ‘owner’ knows how to open a door once or twice a day if that. god knows how many come back inside knocked up with an unwanted litter.

  • Lightfantastic

    Enforce breeding laws. Our generation will be committing genocide if we DON’T do anything just because we are scared of upsetting people.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tina.masuca Tina Fu Masuca

    I volunteered at a no killed shelter, which I am truly grateful, because I do so strongly believe all animal deserves a second change life, and them being in a shelter, their humans should be euthanized, not them……

  • Mansgame

    The point is that there shouldn’t be any breeding done at all when so many dogs are being killed. Chances are, you can find the breed you’re looking for through rescue groups. Maybe when we’re not killing any more dogs and cats and there is a pet shortage they can restart.

  • c-mad

    We already do through abortion.

  • Peter

    The chinese government made claims in 2008 that without the One-Child Policy that was put in place (regardless of how many people break it) there would be 3-400 million more people in China.

  • Clare

    Michael Zhang WTF were you thinking? Did you cry and think I should have helped these animals? Did you think to run them to your car to save them? Did you want to beat the person to death that was doing this? Or did you just stand there and take a picture? You are a disgusting thing

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000830502875 Racheal Hendrickson

    ‘Enforce breeding laws’….. do you understand what that means? Do you realize that women are drugged and FORCED TO UNDERGO ABORTIONS IN CHINA? Or how about the mom recently who broke the 1 child policy a 2nd time. The first time they physically restrained her and forced an abortion. The 2nd time THEY KILLED HER 2 WK OLD CHILD!!! Is this what you want us doing in America?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000830502875 Racheal Hendrickson

    You do realize don’t you, that ‘enforcing breeding laws’ means forcing abortions onto women who DO NOT CONSENT (and often violently) and the killing of newborn babies if mom should manage to hide the pregnancy (as a woman in China just endured…. she had to watch them brutally MURDER her 2 wk old child, b/c she dared to have a 2nd one). If you condone that kind of treatment of women and children, then PLEASE move to China. America damn sure isn’t going to become a government enforced, baby murdering society.

  • swtdixi

    Why do you post something like this on here. I happen to work at a shelter that does euthanize and it is nothing at all like this. Maybe it use to be like this a while back, but it isn’t like this. You make it look like no one cares and that is the furthest thing from the truth. Anyone who work in these shelters who do have to euthanize don’t do it because they don’t care. We do not euthanize healthy adoptable animals. Not all animals are adoptable, you could be putting people in danger. You can’t adopt out feral cats, what are you going to do turn them back out. That just spreads disease to other animals and they could also catch disease and die a slow death, or when the ones taking care of them are tired of doing so, they stop feeding them? You people have all the answers.. The rescue groups who refer to themselves as a no kill, you are so full of it. You pick and choose what you want to pull, pick the best of the best..(the young and the healthy) Oh yeah, I forgot you don’t want something that may not move out your facility so fast. You are take part in the euthanasia’s, you don’t have to be there physically, it is probably an animal you left behind, that wasn’t perfect for you to take.

  • swtdixi

    No it doesn’t. I have seen home inspections go south. You can’t be too picky, because then none get adopted, or raise your adoption fees so high. Every animal is spayed or neutered before leaving and up-to-date on vaccines before they leave and we only charge $50 to adopt. We temperament test all animals, no matter the age, sex . If they pass, they go on the adoption floor. Owners and no kill rescue groups need to start stepping up.

  • swtdixi

    That is my point. They are too picky who they want to adopt to and too picky about what they will take from the shelters and their adoption fees are so high.

  • swtdixi

    There are also really nice adult older cats and dogs at your local pound or shelter. Don’t forget those.

  • swtdixi

    If they had to pay to turn them in, then they would just drop them off on the side of the road some where.

  • swtdixi

    I think you need to do your research about the southern sates using the gas chamber. They are euthanized humanely. Ignorant people are famous saying something without having the facts.

  • swtdixi

    Totally agree. What a sick individual.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sue.spiteri.9 Sue Spiteri

    So sad…..spay and neuter to help stop this…we need to find a way to get this done free as most ppl are put off with having to pay…..its the animas l im thinking about.

  • Fed Up

    Oh I just wanted my kids to experience the miracle of birth (dog had puppies at 2 in the am- EVERYBODY asleep) puppies given away and this is how they ended up or having more puppies to end up here. People are so stupid.

  • Fed Up

    I am on the board of a “No Kill ” shelter and when in overrun some of our animals – old- sick- too many- go to the local animal control- we are still a no kill shelter – they just kill them instead of us.

  • Fed Up

    we can enforce breeding laws in the US by NOT paying people to have more children- yes you can make a mistake once but if you put in for another child when you are not married, have no job and cannot afford to support it- don;t expect me to. Refuse to give more welfare just because people keep having children to raise the amount they get.