Taiwan photographer's crusade: Doomed shelter dogs

In this photo taken on Monday, April 9, 2012, puppies beg for attention at a government-run shelter in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan. In an ongoing project, Taiwanese photographer Tou Chih-kang makes portraits of shelter dogs in the final moments of their lives before being put down by lethal injection. Tou has been visiting dog shelters for two years now, making human-like portraits that give a sense of dignity and esteem to some 400 canines, in hopes of educating the public on the proper care of pets. This year Taiwanese authorities will kill an estimated 80,000 stray dogs at 38 pounds scattered throughout the island. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)
Wally Santana

(AP) TAOYUAN, Taiwan - A photographer has been taking pictures of dogs at a Taiwan animal shelter for two years, creating images that any pet owner would have to have. But these dogs don't have owners and won't get them: Their photo shoots come minutes before they are euthanized.

The pictures are Tou Chih-kang's way of trying to encourage responsibility among Taiwanese dog owners, thousands of whom abandon their pets when they tire of them.

Activists say that some 70 percent of dogs in Taiwanese shelters are killed after a 12-day waiting period.

Tou's photos will be exhibited in a full-scale show in southern Taiwan next month. He says that while some of his friends refuse to even look at his photographs, others say the images taught them to take pet ownership more seriously.