When accomplished film director Ellen Goosenberg Kent first contacted PAWS New England in late 2010 and said, "I want to do a documentary about euthanasia of shelter animals in America and I am looking for a rescue group to feature," I nearly fell off my chair.
We formed an immediate mutual respect and partnership that led to a two year exchange of ideas, reflection, and insight that would form the framework for the "The Betrayal" segment of HBO's One Nation Under Dog.
As a complete novice to the world of film making, I could never have imagined the extreme emotional highs and lows involved in filming and production. However, when I watched the film in its entirety for the first time, all of the struggles, all of the gut-wrenching moments, melted away. For the first time, I knew a largely unaware audience would be temporarily immersed in both the staggering horrors and inspiring tales of survival present in world of dog rescue.
It is my greatest wish that the knowledge this film imparts will change the way homeless animals are treated in the United States and abroad.
One Nation Under Dog is a complicated and unwavering story that explores our relationship with dogs. The film chronicles those who would protect their animals with regard for little else, the many manifestations of grief from losing a pet, and the brutal truth behind the euthanasia of 4-6 million homeless animals in the US each year and the people who fight to save their lives.
Many people will leave the film unable to forget the faces of the many dogs in the background of different shelter scenes that were not as lucky as the dogs chosen to be filmed.
PAWS is pleading with supporters to give us the resources we need so we don't have to chose which dogs live and which dogs die. Help us make the killing stop and give all those dogs a chance at life by committing to one or more items on the action plan below.
PAWS New England and animal lovers around the country would like to thank HBO for commissioning this ground breaking work. If you would like to thank HBO yourself and encourage them to produce more films about this important topic, you can contact the director at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To meet Julie Adams is to experience the true meaning of selflessness.
There are few people in this world who display her level of compassion, commitment, and courage towards animals in need. Julie's love of animals started during childhood and was further fueled by traumatic events involving family members that did not share her passion.
Julie's Life-Saving Work
She has spent the last thirty years saving the lives of thousands of animals who make their way to her home. Most of the animals arrive to her property tethered to the front gate by owners that don't even care enough to announce that they are abandoning their animal, or by way of phone calls promising to "shoot this dog if you don't come and get it."
As Julie's small town of Oran, Missouri does not even have a pound, she is the "go-to" person for town officials and the highway patrol when injured animals are found.
Julie & PAWS
PAWS New England has been working with Julie for the last three years to sponsor the thousands of dollars a month it costs to provide food, veterinary care, and supplies for all of these animals. More importantly, PAWS coordinates the adoption, transportation, and follow-up support to adopters for the dogs Julie takes in.
This partnership has led to over 500 adoptions in the last three years.
While Julie does not want any fanfare or recognition for her incredible sacrifice and commitment, we are all hoping that her role in "One Nation Under Dog" will educate and encourage viewers of the importance of spay and neuter as well as the humane treatment of animals. Additionally, we are hopeful that her inspiring segment will bring some much needed attention to some of the elderly and long-time residents of the farm that would love nothing more than a home of their own.
PAWS is honored to partner with one of the most altruistic and talented women in rescue.
You Can Help!
If you would like to learn more about the dogs in Julie's care please visit the PAWS New England adoption page and look for the dogs with the initials "JA" next to the name of the adoptable dog. If you would like to donate towards the care of these animals, visit our donation page and learn how your gift can make a difference!
Julie has spent the last thirty years saving the lives of thousands of animals who make their way to her home.
John Gagnon may be one of the most recognized and talented dog trainers in the country, but he has never allowed his success to get in the way of his greatest passion: working with rescue dogs.
John started his career saving dogs from euthanasia at local pounds and placing them in loving homes. As time went on, he noticed a profoundly unaddressed problem in dog rescue: families were giving up their rescued pet due to behavioral problems that could be easily managed with the proper training. John had an innate ability to evaluate dog and human miscommunications and propose pragmatic solutions that would improve the quality of life for dogs and dog owners alike.
John discovered that training people to be better dog owners would become his legacy in the world of dog rescue and became a full-time trainer in 1994.
The Pet Resort
By 2003, John opened his state of the art Pet Resort in Colchester, CT with over 10,000 square feet of space dedicated to training, daycare, grooming, and boarding. The Pet Resort is a centralized hub of rescue activity and a sanctuary for rescue dogs that may require significant levels of training and structure.
Espoused by his remarkable wife Sherri, the Gagnons have assisted with over 175 PAWS cases over the last four years.
John's first act of heroism towards PAWS occurred in 2008 when we had no place to put two pit bulls who were being evicted from their foster home with 10 hours notice. John graciously offered to board both dogs at the Pet Resort for no charge while alternative arrangements could be worked out. A friendship blossomed into a powerful partnership and many PAWS dogs have benefited from the outstanding resources afforded to them through the Pet Resort.
Working with the Tough Cases
John and his staff are strong proponents that all dogs deserve a fair chance and that the stressful shelter environment can elicit negative behavioral responses not necessarily characteristic of the dog. Animals who visit the Pet Resort seem to instinctively know that they will be treated with compassion, understanding, and consistency.
PAWS has sent the staff at the Pet Resort numerous canines labeled as "dog aggressive" or "completely un-trainable." We always laugh when we receive photos and videos a few weeks later of the "aggressive" dog playing happily in the playard with canine friends or the "un-trainable" dog mastering a complicated agility course.
None of this would be possible without the help of manager and PAWS foster Mom Jo-Ann Dooley, daycare supervisor and trainer Tom Sears, receptionist and coordinator of all things PAWS Jessica Guilbeault and the rest of the Pet Resort family.
PAWS & the Gagnons
The Gagnons are heroes in the rescue world.
From planning and hosting one of the largest adoption events in New England to working with special needs rescue cases to offering to drive throughout New England to provide in-home training for struggling families, John and Sherri embody selflessness and compassion. PAWS was recently honored when the Gagnons decided to adopt PAWS alumni Katie (pictured in the photo with John) and Fletcher.
We can not think of a more perfect home and simply can not begin to thank the Gagnons enough for their partnership and guidance over the last four years. We know this continued partnership will save hundreds more in the upcoming years.
From his first moment on film, Cherokee’s appearance is regal.
He is featured as one of the many highly-adoptable, but overlooked dogs at Julie Adams’ sanctuary. The story is all too familiar—his family was moving and did not want the trouble of making arrangements to bring him along. He was abandoned to face euthanasia.
Thankfully, Julie Adams stepped in at the last second and rescued him.
One Man's Treasure
Cherokee gives true meaning to the old saying, “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” It is difficult to find a negative quality in Cherokee. He gets along famously with other dogs, cats, and people of all ages.
He is house trained. He does not chew furniture. He sits calmly at your feet relishing attention when he can get it, but never being so brash as to demand that attention. He gives kisses, loves belly rubs, and the only time he ever barks is at the occasional squirrel.
People who met Cherokee asked over and over again, “How could someone possibly not want this dog?” In fact, this is the question that almost every adopter asks. They find it astonishing that someone would have thrown their little treasure away without any regard to whether they lived or died.
A New Life
Cherokee now lives in Baltimore, Maryland with an extraordinary family.
He is adored by his parents Dana and David, his human brother Josh, and his furbrother McLovin, also known as Micky. Cherokee’s new family named him “Camper” as in “Happy Camper” and one year after his adoption they are still in amazement of their dream dog. Camper is equally lucky with the match!
He enjoys daily walks in the park, snuggling up next to Josh, playing tug-of-war with Micky, and being assured that he will never be thrown away again.
His story exemplifies the staggering number of highly adoptable dogs that are over-looked when people opt to buy instead of adopt. With over 340,000 dogs listed for adoption on Petfinder.com, we know that there is the perfect match for every prospective family.
Hope’s first scene in One Nation Under Dog is difficult to watch.
Resigned to a life of misery, her head hangs low as she tentatively jumps from the back of an animal control truck. The audience is shocked to see her nearly bald appearance and multiple excoriated regions of her body from generalized demodectic mange.
Terry Pool, animal control officer for Tipton County Animal Control in Brighton, TN, explains that Hope was found abandoned and roaming along a country road. Animal control supervisor Shane Hooks explains that he is constantly disturbed by the large number of animals that come to the pound in conditions like Hope.
He goes on to say that Hope is likely to be euthanized because no one wants a “mangy pit bull.”
The Turning Point
When dog trainer John Gagnon (also featured on on this site) walks by Hope’s cage, his horror is apparent. He decides to take her into the PAWS New England rescue and Hope’s life dramatically changes course. The journey from her lonely pen at the pound to being the featured guest at the Norton, MA Tricentennial Parade is a remarkable one and we hope you will watch the film to see it firsthand.
Hope currently enjoys a life of luxury with her parents Michael and Elice, and furbrother Cody in Rhode Island. She spends her days wrestling, walking on the beach, and cuddling in bed. Her nickname is now “Hope E Potomus” and she is unrecognizable from the dog that first appeared in the film.
It Takes a Village
Hope would have never landed in her extraordinary home without help from her adoring foster mom Jenn DeAguiar.
Jenn is a long-time PAWS foster parent and profound advocate for dogs who are elderly, sick, or disabled. Along with her equally loving young sons, Jenn nursed Hope through both heartworm and mange treatment.
It was Jenn’s astute observation that saved Hope from a near fatal complication of the treatment. In addition to saving her life, Jenn taught Hope how to live in a home.
The Importance of Fostering
While in foster care, Hope spent her time sneaking snacks on the couch with her human foster brothers, sitting in anyone's lap that she could get to, kissing and snuggling in Jenn’s 2nd grade classroom, eating out of lunch boxes, walking in line, reading in the classroom library, and playing games of tag during recess.
Hope’s story exemplifies the vital role our foster homes play in securing lifelong success and happiness for these remarkable dogs.
As John Gagnon walks down the row of kennels at Tipton County Animal Control, he comes upon Crystal.
She is a husky/lab mix with deep blue eyes who appears utterly terrified. Crystal growls at John as he starts to approach her and looks as if she may bite him. John expertly places a collar around her in a non-threatening manner and calmly escorts her out of the stressful shelter environment.
When Crystal walks outside, away from the hysterical barking and terrified cries, she visibly relaxes. Within minutes, she rolls over and kisses John’s hand. He makes the decision to take Crystal into rescue with PAWS New England and thus begins her journey.
Due to initial issues with fear aggression, John takes Crustal to the Pet Resort for a few weeks to train her and build her confidence.
He plays a lead role in choosing Crystal’s adoptive family and finally settles on Dr. Ericka Bueno. Dr. Bueno is on the face and hand transplant team at Brigham and Woman’s hospital in Boston, MA, and has significant experience working with trauma victims. Her description of Crystal’s first day is heartwarming:
Crystal seemed to know from the first minute she got out of John's car that she had finally come home. I don't know anything about the first few years of her life, and I almost wish she could tell me if someone loved her at some point, I really hope someone did.
I saw her, and I could not believe this was the same dog that, months ago had been so scared of people that some may have thought her aggressive and not adoptable. She was very affectionate with me right away - and she was head over heels for John. I kept thinking she was comfortable only because of John's calming presence, and braced myself for what would happen once he left.
But when the time came, and John said his goodbyes, Crystal just calmly came to lie by my side on the grass and see him off. She sighed.
Ericka worked closely with Crystal over the next year and describes the ups and downs of being a new adopter.
Obviously, we had our challenges those first couple weeks. She cried in her crate when I left for work. She refused to go out with her dog walker, growling at her. She also growled at other dogs on the street and got really spooked by loud noises.
But, she graduated from her crate within a couple of days and showed me that she was a very good girl and could be trusted in the house. We worked very hard together during the summer of 2011 and she became quite a social dog.
She is eager to please, to kiss, to play, to walk, to settle quietly when asked to.
Finding Her Purpose
Ericka goes on to explain:
I sensed our connection deepening and started to perceive a special quality in her - she was very selfless, in a way I had not seen before in a dog... she was also generous and noble with everyone around her.
There wasn't a sad soul she wasn't willing to stop and console, a toy or treat she wouldn't give up if asked to, or a little kid that she wouldn't treat with gentle paws. I thought about ways that we could use this special quality of her, and decided to give fostering a try. I was a little hesitant given her history of being reactive to dogs in the past.
But... we gave it a try, and she rocked!
She is a wonderful foster sister, a calming, encouraging and protective influence to her scared foster siblings. She shows them the way with patience, tolerance and lots of generosity. She has given up her bed, her mom, her toys and her food bowl numerous times without even a whine. It's almost like she looks at me and she knows that...she is home, and her job now is to ensure others like her are just as lucky.
She is loved and cherished by many. And she has found her purpose.
Crystal’s story shows the vital role adoptive families play in the success and happiness of these rescued dogs.