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Final goodbyes: Photography project captures last moments between pets and their owners

Ross Taylor's last moments project captures the raw emotion of the process as pet owners put down their animals.

DENVER — Photographs can capture moments, evoke emotion, and preserve memories.

Ross Taylor, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder campus, teaches his students how do that in every class. Photography was a hobby for Taylor but turned into a passion.

“It's a wide range of emotions I think for me to root, it's a way to connect with people and way for that to resonate with other people as well and I find that real fulfilling,” said Taylor.

In the past two years, some of his photos have captured private and vulnerable moments of people saying goodbye to their pets.

“I would describe it as a sacred space because the emotions are very high, the love is very present, and the fragility of that bond is felt and calls your attention to the human-animal bond,” Taylor said.

Credit: Ross Taylor

He captured that bond before and after his clients put their pets down.

“It's heartbreaking. There is no getting around that," Taylor said. "It's a very difficult moment in time that people experience, and emotions are high. It's just a realization that moment of time is coming.”

Taylor was there with the owner, and the veterinarian before, during, and sometimes after the process. He's witnessed these somber instances dozens of times, but each is different and has a permanent effect.

“It is because of this project that I have a greater respect for the human and animal bond and their life is forever changed in the sense that when someone says that they lost a dog or a cat I'm not going to say that I would dismiss it, that's not the case but I now look at them in the eye more,” Taylor added.

Taylor said he always works closely with organizations and makes sure the clients are comfortable before proceeding with the picture process. He has finished the still photography portion of his project and is working on a film project as well. 

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