Please stop what you’re doing and do a search on your phone or computer for this:
"Dog by Dog"
This will lead you to the website for a compelling documentary film about the commercial dog breeding industry and the subject of "puppy mills" which has been getting more and more attention these days. The film is now available on Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, Youtube, Vudu and Google Play.
There are some materials which I consider compulsory viewing or reading for any animal welfare advocate, any person who cares about companion animals or any person who is interested in how we spend money in our country at federal, state and local levels. "Dog by Dog" is must see viewing as far as I’m concerned. I first blogged about Dog by Dog last August prior to public release of the film and I called it a game changer akin to "The Cove" or "Blackfish." I was fortunate enough to get a Q&A session with Chris Ksoll, the film's Executive Producer. Now that the film has been released for all to see and I have seen it myself, I felt it was important for me to talk about this film again and to implore people to watch it.
I have long believed that if we could get the American public paying attention to what takes place in our country related to the subject of the commercial dog breeding industry and related to puppy mills in particular, people would be so outraged that they would demand change. We Americans love our dogs to extent we could even be called "dog snobs." We hold the values of our culture higher than the values in some other cultures where dogs as used solely for utility purposes or where dogs are consumed. We are appalled at places and by people who don’t share our values, as if those people are less evolved than we are. But just how evolved are we really? It’s hard to stake a claim on the moral high ground when we produce millions of dogs each year while we destroy millions of dogs each year in places we dare call "shelters."
"Dog by Dog" introduces us to subjects we’re not used to hearing about related to puppy mills: money, power interests and legislation. Unlike some footage many of us have seen regarding puppy mills, this is not an "in your face" film that overwhelms you with disturbing images which will keep you awake at night. It is more of a thinking person’s film which helps us understand the topic logically and pragmatically while introducing us to some incredibly important people who are working really, really hard to change our society. And while I would hope what you see does not keep you up at night, I hope what you learn completely changes your opinion on this subject and compels you to get involved.
• We hear from people like Bill Smith of Main Line Animal Rescue who appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show in 2008 and effectively put the phrase "puppy mill" on the public radar. Bill has an excellent quote in the early portion of the film where he compares the way we house mill dogs to strapping them into seats on a 747 and making them live there for 8 years.
• We hear from Bob Baker, the Director of the Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation, who helps us understand what happened to legislation in Missouri to regulate mills which was opposed by powerful and influential forces, but which ultimately led to enactment of the Canine Cruelty Prevention Act.
• We hear from Bob’s counterpart in Ohio, Mary O’Connor Shaver, a long-time contact of mine whom I hold in very high regard. Mary leads Ohio Voters for Companion Animals and she is on the front lines of fighting puppy mills in her state through public awareness and by advancing legislation.
• We hear from people in the "weeds" of rescue like Mindi Callison of Bailing Out Benji who protests puppy mills weekly in an effort to educate the public and while saving mill dogs.
• We learn about the incredibly powerful influence of the American Kennel Club related to dog breeding and the regular opposition of the AKC to common sense legislation to regulate that breeding.
• And we learn about the staggering influence of "Big Agriculture" interests which fight incredibly hard to thwart legislation which would serve to help dogs using the "domino reasoning" that the legislation about dogs would surely lead to legislation about cows, pigs and chickens.
In order to give more depth to this follow-up blog about the film, I solicited some input from three of the people you will see in the film. I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Christopher E. Grimes, Bob Baker and Mindi Callison for taking the time to answer some questions for me.
Christopher E. Grimes, Director of Dog by Dog
Q: What is the one thing that shocked you most about the subject of puppy mills during the course of producing the film?
Bob Baker, Director, Missouri Alliance for Animal Legislation
Q: Even though Proposition B (covered extensively in the film) was altered after the public vote, are you satisfied with the changes created by the legislation?
Mindi Callison, Founder, Bailing Out Benji
Q: There have been a number of documentary films made about the puppy mill industry. What do you think separates "Dog by Dog" from those other films?
If you have not seen this film, I simply cannot urge you strongly enough to take 88 minutes out of your life to see it. The power to end puppy mills and regulate the commercial dog breeding industry rests with us. Yes, us. Mills will exist as long as we keep buying the products and until we learn about the incredibly powerful forces at work in our society that keep the industry alive and thriving.
You will surely walk away from viewing the film wondering why in the world the mass production of dogs is even legal in America considering our otherwise progressive culture.
(images courtesy of "Dog by Dog")
I am an animal welfare advocate. My goal is to help people understand some basic issues related to companion animals in America. Awareness leads to education leads to action leads to change.
image courtesy of Terrah Johnson