Dogs find hope in Shannon Johnstone’s lens.
The North Carolina-based photographer uses her picture snapping skills to help homeless dogs find forever homes. Johnstone’s photo project, titled Landfill Dogs, features beautiful images of hopeful pooches facing euthanasia at the local county animal shelter.
Each week, Johnstone visits the Wake County Animal Center in Raleigh, N.C. and brings one dog to the nearby landfill park where they spend a couple carefree hours playing and relaxing.
"The dogs are so happy when they get outside to the landfill park," Johnstone told Mashable. “It puts such a big smile on my face. They run, leap, roll in the grass and some just want to sit and enjoy the view.”
Sadly, dogs that do not find homes end up being disposed of at the adjacent garbage dump. And while this might seem like a tragic setting, Johnstone says that she hopes people will see it as a symbol.
"This landscape offers a metaphor of hope," Johnstone explained in her artist statement. "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."
Since starting the project, Johnstone has photographed 41 dogs — most of the pups in need (92 percent) have found new human friends. It’s these success stories that make the heart-breaking work a little bit easier. When asked about a story that stood out in her mind, Johnstone recalled a black pit bull named Carlos.
"His former owner was deported and he had to surrender his dog, Carlos, before he left. Carlos was well cared for. He knew commands, he was eager to please, and was very affectionate. The only thing not in his favor was that he was a black pit bull. Four days after his Landfill Dog photo shoot, Carlos got his forever home. He now goes for runs, hikes, walks and loves napping on the couch. I wish his former owner could know that what started as a sad story has a very happy ending.”
Johnstone posts the latest in the Landfill Dogs series on Facebook.