Breeding Ignorance
Cats and dogs are anesthetized before they are euthanized by injection. Although the sedation does not hurt, many fight because they are scared.
Cats in Freezer©2009
During the summer, cat carcasses are stored in a walk-in freezer until they can be picked up and disposed of.
Cats Euthanized©2009
After cats and dogs have been anesthetized, they are then euthanized by injection with an even stronger anesthetic.
Euthanized Dog©2009
After euthaasia, dog carcasses are placed into black bags and are taken to the landfill.
Aggressive Dog Euthanized©2009
Dogs who have demonstrated aggression are destroyed.
Dead Dogs©2009
After dogs have been euthanized, their bodies are placed into large black plastic bags and their kennels are sanitized.
Back of Animal Control Truck©2009
Dog and cat carcasses are taken to the landfill.
Cat awaits euthanasia. Unlike humans, female cats never go through menopause and can produce kittens their entire life, resulting in hundreds of kittens from just one cat.
378 Critters©2010
This is the total number of animals that the animal shelter can hold at any given time. This image is made up of 210 dogs and 168 cats, which is the exact number of spaces for each creature. When the shelter is full, it must make space for incoming animals.
Kittens Before Euthanasias©2009
Without a home, these kittens wait their turn to be euthanized.
Anesthetize Before Euthanize©2009
These cats have been anesthetized as they wait to be euthanized.
Trash Bag Full of Kittens©2009
Without anywhere to house them, these kittens are destroyed.
Blind Dog With Fleas©2009
The economic downturn has placed a burden on many pet owners. The owner of this blind dog could no longer afford his medication or flea and tick treatment, and therefore surrendered him to an animal shelter to be euthanized.
Bagging Walker Hound©2009
Unwanted dogs are euthanized and then disposed of. Approximately 250,000 animals are euthanized annually in North Carolina animal shelters. This number would be significantly reduced if citizens spayed and neutered their pets. There are many low cost spay and neuter clinics throughout NC, some as low as $20—the equivalent of a large bag of dog food.
Three Scared Puppies©2009
These three siblings came into the shelter at several months old. They had not had much contact with humans and were fearful. With so many animals in the shelter and not enough volunteers to work them, they were deemed unadoptable and euthanized.
Have To Be©2009
“The tragedy is not the fact we euthanize cats and dogs. The tragedy is that we HAVE to euthanize them. There is no alternative.” —anonymous veterinarian

In the time it takes for you to read this statement, 15 pets will have entered into life in an animal shelter somewhere in the United States. Ninety percent of these animals are not spayed or neutered. Approximately half will be euthanized.

In North Carolina alone, the state in which I live, every year over 250,000 dogs and cats have to be euthanized because there is no place to put them. That is almost 700 animals every day, which I find shocking and heartbreaking. Although heroic efforts are made daily by animal control officers, shelter employees, veterinarians, and volunteers, they are faced with a Sisyphean task. We are simply breeding more animals than we have homes for.

This series explores the impact of this epidemic, focusing on what remains when there are no regulations on breeding, spaying or neutering.

— Mary Shannon Johnstone