'The Portraits That Were Never Pets'

PetMD Editorial
Published: August 10, 2011
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For Mark Barone and Marina Dervan, there isn’t enough paint, nor enough brushes to explain the message, but they try nonetheless. Their exceptional exhibit, An Act of Dog, stands 10-feet high and spans the length of two football fields -- 5,500 framed portraits in all. Why so many? The number is representative of the estimated 5,500 dogs killed every day in the U.S.

An Act of Dog will offer patrons the opportunity to purchase and sponsor the paintings, and offer a charitable donation. Ultimately, the artists would like to raise $20 million in an effort to become more of a "No Kill Nation."

"We're not activists," Barone told USA Today. "We are regular people who stumbled into awful awareness last year when looking to adopt a shelter dog." Barone and Dervan began digging deeper for greater understanding of why so many animals that walk in the front door of shelters leave dead through the back, "and we realized we needed to do something."

Projected for sale in 2013, the portraits will go for $3,550 for a 12-inch piece, and upwards of $21,000 for one 8-foot spread. Every penny donated to the American no-kill shelters go toward the extra miles, extra efforts, and extra time needed to get these dogs into forever homes. Call the cause what you want: a tribute, a memorial; for Barone and Dervan it’s a message.

"I want the visual impact to reach people in ways that they can understand what is happening," Barone said. "These dogs are forgotten souls; living spirits that were needlessly killed."

Image: Mark Barone

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An Act of Dog