Thursday, May 26, 2011


Earlier this week, Nathan and I watched the documentary MINE via Netflix instant viewing. From the movie's website:
MINE is a documentary about the essential bond between humans and animals, set against the backdrop of one of the worst disasters in modern U.S. history. This gripping, character-driven story follows New Orleans residents as they attempt the daunting task of trying to reunite with their pets who have been adopted by families all over the country, and chronicles the custody battles that arise when two families love the same pet. Who determines the fate of the animals —and the people— involved? A compelling meditation on race, class and the power of compassion, MINE examines how we treat animals as an extension of how we view and treat each other.
I went into this movie with some opinions. I have two dogs who I consider to be full members of my family - decisions on where we will live, how we will travel, where and for how long we will we go on vacation all take Seamus and Calvin into consideration. I said to myself, "If there was a hurricane, there is NO WAY I would ever leave my boys behind." I believe that if you make a commitment to an animal, then it's your responsibility to do everything in your power to uphold that commitment. 

After watching this movie, I'm more sympathetic to the survivors of Katrina. Hearing them tell their own stories, I better understand the terrible positions that many of them were put in. The film explains how most shelters - including the Super Dome - did not allow dogs and cats. How some people were forcibly removed from their homes because they would surely die otherwise. How one man had to evacuate 20 family members and there simply wasn't room for their beloved dog. In many cases, these people did do everything in their power to care for their animals. Tragically, the power they had was severely limited. 

Without giving away the resolutions of the people and pets the documentary follows, I will say this: if a person is trying that hard to find their dog, and if they've lost everything else in their life, then I hope that whoever adopted the animal would find it in their heart to return him or her to the original owner. I'm not saying that every single Katrina survivor deserved to have their animal back - for many of the abandoned dogs and cats, the hurricane really was the best thing that happened to them. It released them from negligent living conditions and gave them a chance for a new life. Then again, those negligent owners didn't appear to be the ones tirelessly searching for their dogs. Returning these pets should be considered on a case by case basis, and I think that MINE did a great job of objectively telling both sides of each story (including the politics and power plays that went into each struggle) and allowing the viewer to make up her own mind.

Have you seen MINE? What did you think?

One more thing: speaking of animals devastated by natural disasters, check out this Amazon registry created by the Joplin Humane Society. Joplin, Missouri was ravaged by tornadoes earlier this week and in addition to the many people who are suffering in the aftermath, there are many animals that also need help and assistance. If you purchase something from this registry (anything from dog food to flea and tick medication to cleaning supplies) it will be shipped directly to the shelter. For more information, check out this post by Brie Fit.


  1. Great post but what a sad thing to think about. I consider our pets like family members, I honestly don't think I could leave my dog behing any more than I could leave a family member behind. I hope to never be faced with that situation. 

    Thanks for linking to the Joplin relief efforts. My heart goes out to all the people there. 


  2. One thing this film has prompted us to do is create an emergency plan that involves our dogs. Nathan is all about preparing for the apocalypse so and making sure our dogs are safe is number one on our survival list.

    I also can't imagine leaving behind my dogs, but it's hard to know what I would do or how I would act when faced with such a disaster. I cried through about 80% of the movie (especially the scenes of rescue operations right after the storm - heart wrenching!) so if you plan to watch it, consider yourself warned!

  3. Oh my gosh, somehow I hadn't even heard of this movie. Now I must see it. You bring up a good point about creating an emergency plan - I don't currently have one in place BUT I need to. Thanks for the reminder Chrissy!

  4. I hadn't heard about this film, so thanks for sharing.  Like S, I don't think I'd be able to leave my dog behind any more than I would be able to abandon a family member.  Bailey is my furry child.  

  5. Thank you for posting the Joplin link!

  6. I think they can come up with a documentary on anything involving Katrina....don't get me wrong, my dogs are my family,...but we have to admit there is a difference. The difference between pets and people family members is if a pet is lost in a storm, more than likely it will be able to fend for itself. I don't worry about my cats if i miss feeding them a meal. Alternately, I don't worry about my dog if I accidentally leave him outside all day. Unfortunately, people aren't as lucky. (Some people leave their dog(s) alone indoors all day.) Doing that to a child is considered abuse...

  7. I agree that there is a difference between animal and human family members. I think just about anyone who was forced to choose between saving their dog's life and their child's life would choose their child.

    I don't agree that the Katrina animals would have been able to fend for themselves. In many cases, dogs were locked in the attic with food and water so that when the house flooded, they wouldn't drown. Their owners were not allowed to return to their homes for weeks due to flooding and destruction, so many of those animals died. In the film, they show dogs and cats being rescued - many of them were found dead in their homes, others were rail thin and starving.

    I also think the ability to fend for yourself depends entirely on the dog! My dog Seamus is 7 years old and quite spoiled. I seriously doubt he would last more than a week in the wild! :)

  8. Thanks for the post about the humane society. I ordered something to send to them. I haven't seen the movie, but I have a hard time imagining ANY scenario that would involve leaving my dog behind. Dogs are so much a part of our family. I may have to watch that one.