All over our rural south dogs are waiting.
Some lucky dogs are in progressive shelters who have staff, resources, and community support that allow them to find homes for all of their adoptable dogs through local adoptions and outside rescues.
Some not-so-lucky dogs are in open intake, high-kill shelters that are routinely forced to euthanize for space. Many of the people who work in these shelters work desperately to save every dog they can but are understaffed, underfunded, undersupported and overwhelmed.
Other dogs are held in private shelters and rescues where amazing people sacrifice time, energy, and many times their very livelihood struggling to care for dogs that their local government has failed. Instead of allowing dogs to perish, they care for them on their own property on their own dime, sometimes creating a legal nonprofit and gathering volunteer help, but many times just doing anything they can to save lives.
And then there are the dogs left behind at tiny municipal pounds in rural communities on back roads people rarely travel.
These dogs live in sparse conditions with few resources and no extras. They are held in chainlink kennels until their owners come for them or they are euthanized to make room for new dogs that arrive. Their pictures are not on a shelter website or Petfinder. Rarely is there anyone working to address their physical, emotional or behavioral needs, let alone search for an adopter. Their only chance beyond being claimed by their owners is for a rescue worker to drive down one of those long, lonely roads and ‘pull’ them, transporting them to rescues sometimes states away.
This site seeks to document the faces and stories of the forgotten dogs waiting to be let out.
I travel with whoever is willing to accompany me on this journey. To date, my 17-year-old son has traveled along to photograph and witness on one trip and professional photographer and friend, Nancy Slattery has joined me for another. We have no qualifications beyond open hearts and a belief that the problem has never been that people don’t care—it’s that people don’t know.
By traveling to these shelters, we hope to change that and inspire change.
If you’d like to help our mission, please spread the word and consider donating what you can in terms of time or resources to help the dogs that have been forgotten. We post a list of the shelters we visit, their mailing address, and their needs. Check back regularly as we update it along the way.
You can subscribe to this blog to follow our journey or find us on Facebook or Instagram. You can also support our mission (and grab some really cool merch) by shopping our Etsy shop. All proceeds go to raise awareness of the situation in rural shelters and to directly help the dogs and people struggling there.
And please, help us spread the word. Together, we can let the dogs out.