Singaporean photographer Ernest Goh regularly partners up with animal welfare groups on a pro bono basis. Pet owners of Laos is the result of a collaboration with the Canadian charitable organization Veterinarians Without Borders (VWB) and the Faculty of Agriculture at the National University of Laos. The team set out together to rural areas to vaccinate dogs, cats and one monkey against rabies in Laos. The title of the series is self-explanatory; portrayed in these images are the proud owners of their newly vaccinated furry friends.
In many developing countries, few controls are in place to prevent rabies occurrence in humans and animals, even when the number of human deaths is high. Providing vaccinations to reduce the risk is thus an important measure, and one that is often only provided by foreign aid. The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends the rabies vaccine to travellers visiting Laos, as it is often carried by bats and dogs. Ernest travelled with the VWB team to rural villages outside the capital Vientiane and invited pet owners to bring along their animals to receive the rabies vaccination free of charge. The principal aims of this campaign were to reduce the risk of rabies in rural areas while also educating villagers about rabies prevention. In each village, the artist and his team would look for appropriate locations to set up their makeshift studios. Locations included a goat pen, the village school’s classroom and a farmhouse basement.
Ernest continues to produce work that raises awareness for good causes. Next up he will be photographing horses for a non-profit organisation that uses horse riding as a form of therapy for people with special needs.
All images © Ernest Goh