Taiwanese photographer Yun-Fei Tou has spent the past five years documenting shelter dogs’ final minutes of life, right before being
. Through this heart-wrenching series, Tou is hoping that viewers will consider animal rights a serious moral issue.
The collection of portraits is titled “Mememto Mori,” Latin for “remember (that you have) to die.” They were taken anywhere from a few hours to a few minutes before the dogs were scheduled to be put down or mercifully killed in public pounds in Taiwan.
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“Utilizing the classic portrait style that originated in the early 19th century with the birth of photography as an art form, these photographs offer the viewer a chance to look attentively into a bleak future,” Tou wrote on his website.
Tou also told Mashable that the portraits confront viewers with a candid look at “the decay of life, moments before death,” and reminds htem to reflect on times of confusion and despair.
By photographing the animals in the same way a portrait artist would depict a man or a woman, Tou works to humanize his canine subjects: “These nameless animals, by virtue of the size at which they are printed and the approximations to human scale, are transformed into existence.”