Portuguese photographer Fábio M. Roque finds beauty in dark, desolate places. In Forgotten, he documents ghostly, deserted mines. And in River, his images of desiccated waterways are meant to represent man’s relationship with the environment. But unlike ruins both industrial and natural, the subjects in Roque’s new series should not be forsaken.
Shelter is set at the APCA, a private dog rescue in the municipality of Sintra, near Lisbon, in Portugal, which was founded in 1958 by four women who wanted to provide a safe haven for abandoned dogs. It’s a rare organisation in Portugal, where feral dogs rest on footpaths by day and prowl in packs by night. Most are malnourished and diseased. Such is not the case in Sintra, where the 200 dogs are given food, shelter and veterinary attention until they are adopted—even if it takes a lifetime since the APCA has a no-kill policy.
Inspired by the shelter’s tireless work, Roque spent two weeks playing with and photographing the rescued dogs. “The images were all shot in black and white, with the help of a portable flash,” he says. “They have a highly contrasted look that makes a strong impact.” Indeed, while the images shot at a distance show signs of the building’s decay (a plan to rebuild is in the works), all of life’s necessities are present: bowls, leads and chewed-up blankets. And the intimate portraits of dogs—some sleeping, some barking, some looking knowingly into the photographer’s lens—reveal they are happy and healthy.
Note. Since 2009, Portugal’s Party for Animals and Nature (PAN) has fought for legislation on behalf on animals, including the criminalisation of animal abuse and sterilisation of feral dogs.
All images courtesy of Fábio M. Roque
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