“What’s so neat about his business is, when the economy goes bad, people buy puppies.” So says Edwin, a Mennonite puppy breeder who’s showing his facility for the documentary, Madonna of the Mills. It’s like that Edwin wouldn’t describe his place as a puppy mill, but one look at the stacks of tiny cages full of whimpering and yelping dogs suggests that he’s not primarily concerned with the animals’ health and safety. Andrew Nibley’s film, which premieres on 24 August on HBO2, makes sure you know how monstrous these mills are, how the puppies they produce for sale at pet stores are typically diseased and how the female dogs, the breeders, live in misery for their entire lives. What the breeders do is legal, even “regulated” by the FDA, but, says a consumer and animal rights advocate named Karen, “Only to protect the farmers. No one is looking out for the dogs.” That is, except individual rescuers like Laura Flynn Amato, a dental office manager from Staten Island who makes it her business to travel through Pennsylvania’s Amish and Mennonite areas and pick up dogs. That she has to do so by registering as a breeder is not a little ironic, though she says that it helps her to maintain at least nominal relationships with other breeders, who will allow her to take dogs who have long been abused and traumatized. The film shows some of her rescues, now living with new owners and still suffering from physical and emotional injuries. The film, sometimes amateurish and always passionate, is organized around Laura’s efforts, with segments introduced by shots of her driving though beautiful country (with an assistant, “Laura, Too”) in search of dogs who are barely surviving, in heartbreaking conditions. Interviews with Laura’s family members underscore her resolve and her love of animals. (“You have to get used to coming in third,” says her husband, standing by the barbeque in their back yard. That is, behind her the rescue dogs and their own dog.) She’s saved some 2000 dogs so far. And Laura hopes that by exposing the problem—in this film and previously, on Oprah—she and her colleagues can save more in the future.
Latest Blog Posts
Ingrid Bergman ... Gaslight
Claudette Colbert ... Since You Went Away
Bette Davis ... Mr. Skeffington
Greer Garson ... Mrs. Parkington
Barbara Stanwyck ... Double Indemnity
Tallulah Bankhead … Lifeboat
New TV series were hyped at an all time high in 2010, only to see disappointing ratings and early cancellations. As a result, this fall will see more new series debuts than last year. But what will stay and what will get cancelled before Christmas? Looking at a show’s premise and competition, I previously predicted the demises of Running Wilde, Detroit 1-8-7, My Generation, and Outlaw, so let’s see about this year.
(The listings shown are for the Central Standard time zone.)
A chimpanzee attacks a woman in Connecticut. An elephant is discovered starving in a yard in Indiana. A little boy plays with an African viper in Ohio. Such stories make local headlines, seemingly sensational and frivolous. But they also reveal serious misunderstandings of wild animals, with potentially serious consequences. These and other animals, especially monkeys and reptiles, are often available for purchase at exotic animals sales. Michael Webber’s The Elephant in the Living Room, available today on DVD, includes interviews with emergency room doctors, big cat owners, and public safety officers like Dayton’s Tim Harrison. A former lion owner himself, Harrison works with private owners in order to find new and safer homes for pets who have grown beyond the owner’s ability to care for them. The film follows his story as it intertwines with that of Terry Brumfield, a former big rig driver suffering from depression following debilitating injuries in a truck accident. When his African lions, Lambert and Lacey, get loose one night and chase cars on a Columbus, OH highway, Tim has to step in, but even as he convinces Terry it’s in the lions’ best interest to move from the cage in his backyard, both men are shocked to learn that Lacey is nursing two cubs. The film observes the two men as they face all manner of emotional, legal, and moral complexities.
See PopMatters’ review.
The self-titled debut album from Pajama Club, the new band featuring Crowded House’s Neil Finn and his wife Sharon Finn, is coming in September. The 11-track Pajama Club is released on September 13 in the US and September 19 in the UK. According to the band’s website, Sharon plays bass, “and Neil plays drums [and] performs vocals on all tracks.” After signing up for the band’s mailing list here, you can download the album’s first two tracks, “From A Friend to A Friend” and “These Are Conditions”. Watch the official video for the first single, “Tell Me What You Want”, below.