In October, 2009 I began building the foundation of the World Animal Awareness Society & WA2S Films to become the award-winning, animal-centric, media non-profit it is today. I had captured the devastation to New Orleans and the gulf following Hurricane Katrina in 2005 with my documentary, An American Opera The Greatest Pet Rescue Ever! and had wrapped a national screening tour in 45 cities supporting local animal rescues in 2010.
In early 2011, after much fanfare and launch of the World Animal Awareness Society, our then Michigan based non-profit was challenged by the Detroit dog rescue community to take notice of the homeless dog issues they were dealing with. I did. The World Animal Awareness Society developed the American Strays 2030 Project, an initiative to quantify the stray and homeless population of dogs and the associated community issues in the United States.
For the past 9 years I have been trying to get my head around telling a story with too many mostly opaque layers; the story of abandoned, stray, homeless dogs on American streets and in shelters, and the very rough existence they endure before a million are killed wantonly every year. I have hundreds of hours of the most compelling dog rescue footage and interviews with stakeholders all across the globe.
The American Strays Canine Survey was created, enabling volunteers to understand where the focal points of the problems are. Volunteer surveys have been deployed in many cities in Michigan, Texas, and the gulf region of the south. The canine survey allowed our teams to have purpose at the front lines of the independent dog rescue community, and to capture the raw elements that go into whether a city will be successful handling their community’s domestic animal issues.
The idea that a million dogs are killed specifically due to space issues in American shelters, for being homeless temporarily, was so very striking to me. It was right under my nose, and I truly had no idea until I saw it all first hand.
As our film team captured the action on the streets while the surveys occurred, I began to see the greater powers at work, keeping cities like Houston and Detroit from providing a higher quality of service to the animals and people in their communities.
For 2 weeks prior to Hurricane Harvey, I was in Houston surveying for homeless dogs and filming rescues working in the city, oblivious to any possible inclement weather, let alone a powerful hurricane like Harvey. After leaving Houston one day before Harvey struck, I felt compelled to come back and spent 3 additional weeks filming the aftermath.
As in New Orleans in 2005, Hurricane Harvey in 2017 tore the facade of everything away, including many of the layers that camouflage some animal shelter's activities. Hurricane Harvey opened a window into a dark secret of a multi-million dollar shelter that formerly was the focus of an Animal Planet series. Once Houston had been more thoroughly ripped open, the actual cause of the city's dog population problems became clear.
I believe the work I have put in on the American Strays 2030 Project with hundreds of people over the past 9 years will in fact cause a shift change in how American communities manage their domestic animals. RUFF LIFE is a call to action; The American Strays 2030 Project is the vehicle.
2021 Official #AniFab Monthly Selections
Animalis Fabula Film Festival official monthly selections have the opportunity to compete for monthly attention as well as inclusion in the annual live / virtual film festival in Austin, Texas and the end of year fundraising benefit for animal welfare.