Friday, June 21, 2024

New doc showcases grassroot dog rescuers in the South

Free Puppies! is a new documentary that will have all queer animal lovers racing to their next rescue mission.

As queer people we have a good idea of what it means to have to stand up for yourself and that is why so many of us are moved to activism to protect and defend those who are unable to do so for themselves. This is especially true in relation to animals who literally have no voice to express their needs or speak out when they are hurting.

A substantial number of LGBTQ+ persons are animal rights activists. Many are also pet owners. That is why we wanted to share this documentary with our readers. Because although the subject matter is not explicitly queer, the film is about a predominately female network of women striving to rescue dogs out of the rural south, and that is a story we can all get behind.

Rescuers Ruth Smith and Monda Wooten taking a litter of puppies from a home in Rossville, GA, as seen in Free Puppies!

Free Puppies!, a film by Samantha Wishman and Christina Thomas, is a story about the heartbreak and heroism of dog rescue in America that began with one of the biggest tragedies the South has ever had to endure.

When Hurricane Katrina left more than 250,000 pets stranded, the infrastructure of a nation-wide dog rescue effort was born. Since then, millions of Southern rescue dogs have been transported to new homes thanks to the tireless efforts of a grassroots network of dog rescuers. And while the media has popularized the image of dogs climbing out of transport trucks into the arms of eager adopters, little attention has been paid to the other side of the story. 

FREE PUPPIES! travels across the country’s political divide to explore one of the many areas where no public animal services exist, and volunteers — many of them women — step in. The story follows rescuers Monda Wooten, Ann Brown, and Ruth Smith, and the network of independent “rescue ladies” who patrol vast rural counties in the Tennessee Valley caring for stray and surrendered dogs. 

Their grassroots efforts to start up a spay-and-neuter program, rescue countless dogs from euthanasia and neglect, and place them in loving “forever homes” will pluck at the heartstrings of any dog person or animal lover in general. See the trailer below:

About Samantha Wishman
Samantha Wishman is a filmmaker from New York City. After graduating from Columbia Law School, she moved to LA to make a short film about pitching a script for a feminist softball comedy in Hollywood, which went on to play at a number of festivals. She adopted a rescue dog named Billie Hollydale before returning home to make FREE PUPPIES!.

About Christina Thomas
Christina Thomas is a producer, director and editor from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After graduating from The University of Pennsylvania she moved to Los Angeles where she has worked on several productions including commercials, shorts and features. FREE PUPPIES! is her documentary directorial debut. She enjoys giving equal attention to her dogs Harvey and Ruphus.

Free Puppies! From First Run Features is releasing on VOD on major platforms and DVD in the US and Canada on December 13.

To learn more about the film and to help out check out and check out their Instagram @wefreepuppies.

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