Hello, Kind Ones. Today's post is painful to write, and will likely be painful to read. But the work of Yun-Fei Tou makes it impossible to deny the harsh reality of animal euthanasia. I first read about Yun-Fei Tou's works yesterday on the blog Our Hen House. Jasmin Singer's article for Art of the Animal introduced me to the work of this artist, who takes photographic portraits of street dogs moments before their deaths in the gas chambers of Tiawanese pounds.
Fearing the photographs would be exploitative, I nevertheless checked out the artist's work on National Geographic and was moved to tears by his dignified treatment of these unwanted dogs. Yun-Fei Tou captures the pathos of these dogs' situation and the tragedy of their lives. These wonderful animals, domesticated and bred by us to be our companions, have been denied by humanity, betrayed by those who hold responsibility for their lives. Too often we say we cannot face the reality of these dogs' fate. Too often, we turn away from the dogs most in need of our care and intervention. Too often we think of them, when we think of them at all, as "problem" dogs -- they might be vicious or rabid or mangy. Well, maybe. However, these poor dogs are much more likely to have never been given a chance to be part of a family, to have never had proper medical care and food, and to have never known what it feels like to endure a human touch that is not abusive. These dogs are not the problem -- we are.
Yun-Fei Tou told Focus Taiwan: "I don’t tell people what they should do. My works aren’t propaganda or templates that instruct people, but I hope the images can inspire people to take action" (qtd. in Singer). I won't tell you what to do either, but I ask you, Kind Ones, to allow his works instruct you, to let these portraits move you to take action. You can campaign against euthanasia of adoptable dogs in your neighborhood. You can support the Human Society International's Street Dog Defender Program. You can adopt your dogs from animal shelters or pounds. We do not want to support pounds, but the dogs there are in desperate need of your attention and consideration. It is not the dog's fault he ended up at the pound rather than at a no-kill shelter. Please, please acknowledge the beinghood and individuality of these dogs and help them live the happy lives we owe them. Please.
Photo by Yun-Fei Tou.