The incredibly strong bond between pets and their human companions teach us that emotional interspecies connections are a vital and rewarding part of life. While we all wish our pets could be immortal, we know our time with them in this life is limited. Knowing this, we appreciate each day all the more. Although we know in the back of our minds that the time will come, saying goodbye is one of the hardest things we’ll ever do in our lives.
Note: The pictures in this story may be too disturbing for some viewers. It present photographs of animals that have passed away.
Now one photojournalist is sharing the stories of the final moments between pets and their families, as a respectful way to honor the undeniable bonds between humans and their animal companions. Ross Taylor’s new series, Last Moments, confronts the deep emotional anguish faced by families as they make the decision to euthanize dying pets in the comfort of their homes.
With in-home pet euthanasia, a professional comes to the privacy of your home so that pets and owners don’t need to go to a stressful veterinary office. Families can then choose how to memorialize and hold a funeral for their pet in a meaningful way.
BuzzFeed’s Gabriel H. Sanchez wrote:
“The focus of Last Moments, in part, is to help those going through this process to know they’re not alone, and that their grief should not be overlooked, nor minimized by others.”
“It’s real, and it’s painful.”
After completing the series, the photojournalist of more than 20 years says it changed the way he reacts when someone he knows loses their pet. It also changed the way he sees the veterinarians who provide comfort to families and allow pet’s suffering to end.
“Producing this body of work has been one of the most intense experiences I’ve ever had. It’s fundamentally shifted how I react when someone tells me they lost a pet, or that a pet is dying. My heart is more open toward those going through this process, and I have a profoundly deep respect for veterinarians who do this daily. They’re impressive people.”
Taylor says the families allowed him to take the pictures as a way to share their meaningful stories. He profusely thanks them as well as the caring veterinarians who worked with him for the project.
“They have my respect. I think, in the end, the reason they allowed my presence has a lot to do with the fact that we all have a story to tell, and theirs is worth sharing,” he said.
The assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder says he hopes that by sharing this work, people will learn empathy and respect the strong bonds between pets and their human families.
“I hope people will never say to someone after losing a pet, ‘Oh it’s just a dog,’ or, ‘It’s just a cat. You can get another.'”
“It’s crucial to recognize, and respect, the pain that comes along with this. I hope, in the end, it builds more empathy toward one another.”
It’s the phrase I think about whenever I see this image after Asia passed away. Dr. Dani McVety tenderly made a paw print for Carrie and Rob Peterson shortly after Asia died.”
Ross Taylor is working on a feature-length film about the series and the powerful images he captured.