Saturday, 14 July 2012

PAWS@LXG: The Last Picture Show

Social Responsibility is an obligation, not a choice. We must all, in our own way, try and step up to the mark and do something that positively affects our society and those around us. And by society, we must also remember our non-human neighbours and cohabitants.

They say a Man's best friend is his Dog. But having a dog is not a luxury; its not a car that can be sold off and traded after a few years' wear and tear. Its not an accessory to be replaced as soon as the style goes out of fashion. Having a dog as your companion pet is a huge responsibility - and you're all intelligent people out there - you don't really need me to tell you that, as if I were talking to a bunch of kids...

And yet how often are we all guilty of ignoring the plight of abused and neglected dogs that is brought to our attention on an almost daily basis? Its easy to turn the page or switch the channel - God knows I'm guilty of that.   

The problem is that as a society, we have become hardened to acts of violence, torture and abuse. Our most popular forms of celluloid entertainment are based almost entirely on these subjects. So when we see even the most shocking depictions of real-life animal abuse, does it move us? Usually not... C'mon it looks just like a scene from the latest horror flick right? Just change the channel again, and the bad things go away...

Animal rights campaigners try to bombard us into guilt with the most shocking images, portraying the very worst of our human nature. But It Does Not Work. We are immune to it.

So I was literally startled into silence recently, when I came across a portfolio of images, "MEMENTO MORI" taken by a photographer in Taiwan.

The photos are the works of photographer Tou Yun-fei. He has taken over 40,000 images of strays before they are euthanized over the last two years. These portraits capture Taiwan's stray dogs and puppies in their last moments before they are put to death... Each and every expression silently says so much; a myriad of emotions.
But even in these final moments, there seems such dignity, such knowing...
These photos draw attention to the plight of strays, 80,000 of which are reportedly euthanized annually in Taiwan.

"I believe something should not be told but should be felt," Tou told the Associated Press. "And I hope these images will arouse the viewers to contemplate and feel for these unfortunate lives, and understand the inhumanity we the society are putting them through."
Sometimes it's not shocking pictures that move people - its the quiet, subtle images that hit you where it hurts. I hope all of us, with even the slightest sense of decency, will look upon these images with a sense of shame for what our superior species is capable of inflicting on others...
As I finish this post, I look down at our own motley crew of rescued cats and dogs, some asleep by my side, and I give them each a big hug because... just because...  

C.

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