New Movie “The Dog Lover”: Propaganda or Parable?

By Ron Sturgeon, NADBR Sr. VP and Founder

“The Dog Lover,” a just-released film based on a true story, is likely to make some dog lovers angry.  Spoiler alert: It is about an idealistic dog lover, a veterinary student, who goes undercover to capture video of conditions at a commercial dog breeder. The evidence she gathers is taken out of context by a large fictional animal rights organization and used to draw negative media coverage and incite authorities to seize the breeder’s dogs and farm.

In the film, the activist dog lover starts with the point of view that all dog breeding is wrong. When her father suggests to her that she may find the people she is trying to expose are responsible dog breeders, she says, “There is no such thing. Every time someone buys a designer puppy instead of adopting from a shelter, a homeless animal loses its chance of finding a home, and then it’s euthanized.”

I know lots of people reading this may feel that way. Although I rescue and foster dogs, and have done so for many years, I don’t believe it’s quite that simple. Dogs come into people’s lives in many ways. Buying a dog does not mean a shelter pet will not find a home or that it will be euthanized.

The dog lover in the film gradually comes to a less black-and-white view of the world. She comes to believe that dog breeders should be judged based upon how they treat the animals in their care. She distinguishes between the breeder she originally targeted and a callous breeder producing puppies under appalling conditions next door to him.

I agree with the point implied by the film: dog breeders should be judged based upon the way they treat the dogs in their care. We live in a world in which dog breeding is going to happen because people want to buy the puppies that breeders produce.

If dog breeding is going to happen, dog lovers should do what they can to ensure that the people who breed dogs have the proper regard for them. The National Alliance for Dog Breeding Reform was founded on the idea that all dogs should be treated humanely, shown kindness, and bred using only medically sound practices.

I plan to see “The Dog Lover” because I am interested in improving dog breeding for the dogs. I am curious what reaction dog lovers and people active in rescue will have to a film that casts one dog breeder in the role of victim of overzealous government persecution and another in the role of villain. If you have not seen “The Dog Lover,” do you have plans to see it? If you have seen it, what did you think?

More about the film from a review in Variety: Commentary on the film and its executive producer from Dogster: