Movie Review — Mine

Posted on May 1st, 2010 by admin

Mine” is a movie that should be on the “to watch” list of anyone concerned about animal welfare, rescue or animal law. Be prepared for a movie that will make you cringe, cry, cheer and think. If there is any justice in the documentary world, “Mine” should be on the fast track for numerous awards.

“Mine” is the top-notch documentary by talented director Geralyn Pezanoski about the massive rescue effort of dogs and cats after Hurricane Katrina and the resulting canine diaspora. Director Pezanoski recorded the rescue efforts and the efforts of some of the owners to retrieve their dogs from their post-Katrina adopters. “Mine” is part of the prestigious PBS Independent Lens series and was first aired February16, 2010.

There is no way to watch “Mine” without being overwhelmed by a torrent of emotion. As the movie starts we see the terror and desperation caused by Katrina and the weeks after as animal rescuers bravely rush into New Orleans to save animals left behind by their owners. Then animal rescuers do what they must to save the thousands of rescued animals. But most of the movie chronicles the aftermath when some owners search for the animals they left behind.

This is a difficult movie to watch. I have to admit I had to force myself to watch this movie all the way to the end. Why? Because I kept asking the one question that the original owners never seemed to ask themselves — what is best for the dogs? The rescuers asked that question and did what they could to save the dogs and then find them homes.

But the owners seemed more concerned about themselves and their lives than the dogs they abandoned to their fates in the face of a killer storm. Only one of the owners (and I use the term owners because I have trouble calling someone a dog guardian who leaves a dog in an attic and hopes for the best) was physically forced to leave her dog. I have sympathy for her. The others made the decision to leave their dogs behind. And then they say the dogs are like their family. Uh, no, you took your families with you. You left the dogs behind.

Then the owners want their dogs back. That I understand. I can even empathize with them. One could say the owners are worried about their dogs, wanting to know if the dogs lived or died. But then when they find out the dogs have survived and been adopted into loving homes this is where the owners’ guilt comes to the fore. Instead of being happy for their pets and wanting them to be happy in their new homes the owners SELFISHLY want to uproot the dogs from their loving homes and cause the dogs more distress. If the owners truly cared about what was best for the dogs they would have left them alone and adopted other dogs.

Think about this from the dogs’ point of view. They have been left behind by the very people they trusted to love and protect them. Then they have suffered through hunger and thirst and maybe worse without their pack. Then they were adopted by people who showed them love and gave them stability. Now the previous owners want to rip them out of the security of the new home. And why? Because the original owners feel so guilty for leaving the dogs behind that nothing is more important than assuaging that guilt by regaining the dogs. By regaining the dogs they can feel like they never betrayed them in the first place.

But they DID betray them in the dogs’ minds. The dogs don’t know why the owners left them. All the dogs know is that they were left behind.

Technically, “Mine” is skillfully rendered. The photography and interviews with the various players are excellent, giving the viewer a sense of intimacy that is almost uncomfortable at times but always authentic. The original dog owners are all compelling.

The result is that “Mine” is a difficult movie. It is easy to cheer the rescuers (and I did). But there are some hard questions raised here that rescuers and animal protectors need to be addressing. Who’s best interests should be considered in these situations, the animal or the human?

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