The film focuses almost entirely on the rescue and sheltering efforts of HSUS/Lamar Dixon and the in-your-face dog rescues and commentary by two men from Winn Dixie. It does not mention rescue and sheltering efforts by the other groups. Whatever people's opinion of Best Friends, they were not mentioned or shown, although they played a large role in all of this. Also absent from the film was the Humane Society of Louisiana in Tylertown, Noah's Wish which ran the rescue and sheltering operation in St. Tammany Parish, Pasados, Muttshack, UAN/EARS in Monroe, LA, and Alley Cat Allies. There was no mention of the formation of ARNO when HSUS pulled out in October and the LaSPCA called off rescue operations.
The film portrayed a stark contrast between HSUS/Lamar Dixon and Winn Dixie, making it look as if Wayne Pacelle was there the entire time, fully in charge of the operation. Some of the Winn Dixie rescuers came off looking like juvenile delinquents. Both of these portrayals are exaggerations of what really happened.
Larry Roberts and Aaron Minjares are the two men from Winn Dixie that the film crew followed around. They are pierced, tattooed, with cigarettes hanging out of their mouths, and very vocal in their opinions that the owners do not deserve to get back their dogs. In one disturbing scene, Larry is shown removing the collar with tags from a dog just rescued from inside a house and throwing the collar back into the house, muttering something stupid about what the owner can do with the collar. There is an interesting scene where another volunteer leads the camera crew through the Winn Dixie store at night, asking what kind of liquor everyone wants. She explains that's what they do every night and apologizes that they've "already cleaned out the pharmacy." Mark, the co-founder of Winn Dixie appears in the film only briefly, drunk and slurring whatever it is he was trying to say. The Lamar Dixon volunteers, by contrast to Winn Dixie, came off looking clean-cut, professional and well-organized **
There are many shots of dead and decomposing cats and dogs in addition to the scene inside the school, but the scene that was the hardest for me to watch - and I fast forwarded through it - was a pit-bull fight (film clip was courtesy of HSUS).
I take some issue with the sub-title of the film: The Truth about Hurricane Katrina Animal Rescues. I know that there are many versions of the truth and not an absolute truth to this or any other story. No single film or book or person's experience will capture and convey the truth, other than their subjective experience of it. The core of my truth is that no one expected the levees to break and the city to flood when owners left behind their beloved pets for what would / should have been 24-48 hours.
I think that it's an important film that should be seen by people who have no idea of what went on down there. I hope to organize a screening of it here in conjunction with local rescue events and encourage others to do the same. When possible the film should be followed by discussions and Q & A.
I also want audiences to know what has been happening since the rescues with pets being sent all over the county and the difficulty finding them and reuniting with owners. I want to dispel the idea that these were bad people/bad pet owners who don't deserve their pets back. Personally, I would not have given over the last ten months of my life to help these people get their pets rescued, located and reunited if I didn't believe that they absolutely deserve them back.
We - the hundreds of volunteers who have been helping with this for almost a year now - don't know, assist or work with the bad pet owners. They don't look for their pets and they don't contact us for help. Sadly, they just go out and get replacement pets (to be used as guard dogs, huntin' dogs, chained dogs). The hundreds of pet owners we have had the pleasure and privilege to know and assist are not getting replacement pets because their cats and dogs were members of their families and are irreplaceable.
** My comments are about the portrayal of people and groups, not about the people and groups themselves.