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Heartbreaking Photos of Pet Owners Saying Goodbye to Their Dying Pets


Last Moments is a powerful photo series by Pulitzer Prize-nominated photographer Ross Taylor, who was invited to document the intimate last moments in a beloved pet’s life when the owner must deal with a painful farewell.

Taylor was inspired to turn his camera on this topic after his good friend went through the agonizing decision to euthanize her ailing dog.

“When someone tells me they’re struggling with the death of a pet, my heart aches for them,” Taylor tells the Washington Post. “I was profoundly moved by witnessing her struggle and her love for her dog.”

Taylor is a freelance visual journalist and an assistant professor in the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder. Between 2017 and 2018, he visited pet owners in the Tampa Bay area of Florida after they called the at-home pet euthanasia veterinarian service Lap of Love.

“She’s always been my companion. Coco was there for me when he was on deployment,” said Rebecca Cassity, as she fights back tears. Her husband, Drew (at right) was in the military and also struggled in the final moments. During the procedure Dr. McVety reassures her with a hug and consoling words: “This is better treatment than any one of us would get.”
Leigh Zahn fights back tears as she lays with her dog, Spencer, in her lap a final time, just moments after Spencer passed.
Wendy Lehr met Dr. Erica Unz with tears in her eyes. As they settled into the living room, thunder boomed outside. A heavy rain pattered against the roof. Mimosa, center, didn’t move and Wendy Lehr notices it. “She’s normally scared of it.” After awhile, Erica Unz asked if they’re ready. “I don’t know if we’ll ever be ready, but I guess it’s time,” she said before starting to openly sob. It was one of the hardest cases I’ve witnessed and brought me to tears immediately. I felt so sad for them.
Olesya Lykovi cries out in anguish, moments after the death of her dog, Sam. Moments before, she looked at Dr. Dani McVety, at right and asked, “Is he gone?” Dani nodded and said, “He has his wings now.”
Vanessa Gangadyal consoles her son, Ian, 8 while her husband Michael Gangadyal pets their dog, Ally, shortly it’s passing.
Vanessa Gangadyal consoles her son, Ian, 8 while her husband Michael Gangadyal pets their dog, Ally, shortly it’s passing. At right is Erica Unz, a veterinarian with a deep compassion, who comforts the family in the difficult moment.
“I tried to do more, I tried to do all I can. But they said there’s nothing more I can do,” Kiara Manrique said while weeping at the loss of her dog. At left is her sister, Kimberly, and veterinarian Nil Wilkins (unseen) who later reached out to comfort her.
Marquita Leibe paced back and forth shortly before bending down to be near her dog, Daisy, minutes before she is put to sleep. At right is her husband, Donald. Shortly after, he stepped outside to compose himself, overwhelmed with grief.
“I always felt safe with him,” said Juliet Rubio as she laid by her dog, Dingo, who is 12. “I hate this, I hate this,” she said over and over again before the passing of Dingo. “He’s given me so much comfort.” As he started to die she cried over him saying over and over, “I love you, I love you. Soon, you’re going to be free again.”
Bob Zahn touches his dog, Spencer, a final time, just moments after the dog passed. His wife, Leigh, left the room immediately, as it was too much for her to take. “She’s going to take it harder maybe than the loss of her parents. Your parents can tell you when something is wrong, but your dog can’t.” He sighed. “She’ll be a mess, today, tomorrow and the next few weeks. She loved him.”
“It’s tough saying goodbye,” said Carrie Peterson after she dropped sunflowers over the grave of her dog, Asia. The smell of freshly turned earth is what I remember, and how peaceful Asia looked within it.

You can find more of Taylor’s work on his website and Instagram.

(via Washington Post via Fstoppers)

Image credits: Photographs by Ross Taylor and used with permission