Overpopulation isn’t just a human problem. Companion animals, who are bred (and discarded) at alarming rates across the globe, are crowding out shelters, running wild on city streets, or, tragically, being destroyed. The creation of artist Carlo Sampietro, Pop Dogs is a mobile installation that calls attention to the problem of canine overpopulation around the world. Traveling to four cities—Shanghai, New York, Paris, and Rio de Janeiro (all of which have specific and unique challenges with animal overcrowding)—the project features a 14-foot popcorn popper that spits out tiny stuffed dogs at a rate that mimics the actual birthrate of dogs across the world. This cascade of toy pets serves as a larger-than- life reminder of the cycle of craving, consumption, and abandonment that happens regularly in the consumer marketplace, but which has particularly tragic consequences when it happens with animals.

The installation sparked a website, popdogs.org, where people can go to learn more and get involved. Pop Dogs is also at work on an app that will allow users to adopt and care for a virtual dog. The dog will need to be watered, fed, walked, and interacted with at least once an hour. It’s a way to encourage people to face their own strengths and weaknesses as responsible pet owners—and to prompt them to take seriously the decision to adopt an animal.