Austin Film Festival
Cam Ray, Austin Film Festival Staff
AFF Staff Pick
This was a heart-wrenching film to watch. The topic of police shooting family pets is a difficult one, and it’s handled thoughtfully and in a balanced way by the filmmakers. The film shows the conflicted feelings of the police officers, who could be confronted with the same situation. Being a strong animal rights advocate, I applaud the filmmakers for the depth of examination they put forth, and for creating such a compelling story.
Animal Law Review - Spring 2016
Anyone who watches this film should should do so expecting to be upset and angered by the sad phenomenon of dogs being shot by law enforcement officers in the U.S. While parts of the documentary will undoubtedly have this effect, ultimately, it leaves the viewer with a sense of optimism and empowerment about the positive changes they can make to address these types of shootings.
As this documentary catalogs, the Patton case isn't just about the killing of one pet. It's the opening chapter for story after story after story: probation checks, accidental 911 calls, wrong addresses, false accusations. For even people who don't care about dogs, the question is: Why are so many dogs getting shot? Why would anyone think that their life is in danger from a 12-pound terrier? And what kind of person shoots a dog from behind with a submachine gun?
Ultimately, the question is of trust. Dogs trust their owners. Their owners trust the police. And the audience has little choice but to trust the dash-cams and phone camera footage of wagging, happy pets gunned down with little concern for where the bullets are flying. But there is a nugget of optimism in the K-9 units, where officers are educated to understand dog behavior. The movie's mending heart wants the audience to trust that, with the proper training, the dog lover in everyone can be allowed to flourish.
Simplistically, Of Dogs and Men is another in a long line of issue documentaries. It finds a problem, shows it to the audience, and attempts to inspire you to do something. The laziest of this ilk simply believes that you care as much as the filmmaker does. The better ones throw out the idiocy of assumption and are constructed to make you care. Of Dogs and Men is one of the better ones.
Director Michael Ozias isn’t making this film for dog owners, he already has them on his side. Instead he takes the care and time to illustrate that this isn’t some one-off issue, wherein a handful of unlucky families lose a pet.
The blank looks that accompany those that still appear to have trouble believing that their loved ones are gone are terrifyingly real. These aren’t hysterics and finger pointing that can be alienating in their grandiosity, they are troubling reminders that it can happen to anyone.
For so much of its runtime, Of Dogs and Men has made your stomach drop, your eyes water, your rage grow, but director Michael Ozias recognizes that that is just the beginning.
Of Dogs and Men may make you cry and it will certainly make you mad, but more importantly than anything else, it shows you how to make a change.
Documentary ‘Of Dogs and Men’ tackles tough subject with fairness, hope
The footage of shootings, mostly from dash cams and cell phones, is presented thoughtfully and without exploitation. After all this, you might be surprised to hear that you’re likely to leave this documentary emotionally spent, but hopeful. The dog owners are not looking to vilify law enforcement; they’re all working toward what seems to be a simple answer: more training for police officers.
Victoria Stilwell (podcast)
Every person who has a dog should watch this film. It could be the difference between life and death. Knowledge is power, on both sides. Civilians as well as law enforcement need to watch this film.
As heartbreaking stories about law enforcement officers shooting dogs continue to make headlines, a new film, Of Dogs and Men, is exploring both sides of the story and how we can change the system to make it safer for everyone.
The case of Patches, a 12 pound Jack Russell terrier who was shot by an officer who didn’t claim he was afraid of being bitten, but that he was in fear for his life, is a startling one that raises serious questions about when the use of deadly force is necessary. Sadly, there are many more cases of dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes being killed just like Patches.
Of Dogs and Men explores the issue in depth, getting perspective from law enforcement officials and legal experts and tells the stories of grieving families who relive their experiences in an effort to help stop others from suffering the same kind of tragedy.
The film also explores other factors, including how myths surrounding supposedly dangerous dogs like pit bulls continue to put them in danger, the steps taken to cover up and defend the unjustified actions of officers, how difficult it is to hold anyone accountable for these killings and, most importantly, how these incidents are inspiring people to demand and get change.
A new documentary brings attention to an epidemic that really needs some — the shooting of dogs by police officers in America.