A photographer documents the heart-wrenching final moments of pet owners with their dying pets

There are moments in life so devastating, they can leave us broken and our lives permanently changed.  These include the death of a family member, a breakup, a serious injury or job loss. As photographer Ross Taylor documents, the loss of a pet can absolutely be one of those moments, as well. “When someone tells me they’re struggling with the death of a pet, my heart aches for them,” Taylor said.

Taylor became interested in the topic when a good friend was going through the agony of deciding to euthanize her dog. “I was profoundly moved by witnessing her struggle and her love for her dog,” he said. Taylor, an assistant professor in the College of Media, Communication and Information at the University of Colorado Boulder and a freelance visual journalist, said he realized these moments are rarely documented. The series of photographs, taken over the course of a year in 2017-2018, were made with the cooperation of pet owners in the Tampa Bay area of Florida who were served by veterinarians from Lap of Love, an at-home pet euthanasia veterinarian service founded by Dani McVety. Taylor has also been working in conjunction with Caring Pathways, an organization based out of Denver. “I’ve been struck by the care and compassion that Dr. McVety, and so many other vets, have shown during such a difficult process. They have my respect.”

Much of Taylor’s overall body of work explores intersections of intimacy and the effects of trauma. His work in a trauma hospital in Afghanistan in 2011 was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.

“A cornerstone idea of my work is this — I want people going through traumatic experiences to know they’re not alone,” Taylor said. “And that the pain of such experiences should not be taken lightly.”

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