Shannon Johnstone is a tenured associate professor at Meredith College in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her photographic work deals with themes that reclaim what has been discarded and make visible that which is hidden. Landfill Dogs...
These are not cute pictures of dogs. These are dogs who have been homeless for at least two weeks, and now face euthanasia if they do not find a home. Each week I bring one dog from the county animal shelter and photograph him/her at the local landfill.
The backdrop of Landfill Park is used for two reasons. First,the dogs will end up in a landfill if they do not find a home. They will be euthanized and their bodies will be buried deep in thelandfill among our trash. Below the surface at Landfill Park there are more than 25,000 dogsburied. I think of this park as a burial ground. These photographs offer the last opportunity for these dogs to find homes. The second reason for the landfill location is because the county animal shelter falls under the same management as the landfill. This government structure reflects a societal value; homeless cats and dogs are just another waste stream. However, this landscape offers a metaphor of hope. It is a place of trash that has been transformed into a place of beauty. I hope the viewer also sees the beauty in these homeless, unloved creatures.
To date I have photographed 174 dogs as part of this project. Of that group, 149 have found homes or been sent to rescue. 6 are still waiting, and 19 have been euthanized for various reasons. This is an on-going project that began in 2012.