I am a dog lover. I adopt dogs. I rescue dogs. I transport dogs. I protest puppy mills that sell puppy mill puppies. I research and write articles about puppy mills and pet stores they sell to. And, yes, I have been to several puppy mills and dog auctions.. So when I heard about this movie, “The Dog Lover”, formerly known as “The Wrong Side of Right” , I knew I had to watch it. Not because I would agree with the film, but because I needed to say what the “other side” was trying to push onto the general public. The other side, being the large-scale commercial dog breeding side. I don’t know how much of a “movie review” this will be, as me pointing out the blatant mistruths that have been strategically placed throughout this “touching” film. Let’s start by sharing the official movie trailer and the IMDB synopsis of the film, in case you haven’t heard of it.
Sara Gold is a rising star at the United Animal Protection Agency (UAPA), a major animal rights organization that conducts animal rescues and lobbies for better animal welfare laws. Handpicked for a major assignment, Sara goes undercover as a college intern to infiltrate a suspected “puppy mill” run by the enigmatic Daniel Holloway.
– Written by ESX Entertainment
From here on out, THERE ARE SPOILERS for anyone who hasn’t seen the film.
Before I really get into the absurdity of this movie, I want to point out two HUGE red flags that tear down the validity of the claims. The biggest draw to this film is that it is “based on a true story”, it even says so right at the beginning of the film; which definitely tugs at the heartstrings as you watch and feel sorry for a man losing everything he (well… his dogs) has worked for. The breeder that this film is based off of, Dan Christensen, even says the film is about 95% accurate…. But he is only referring to the last act of the film (his words). The rest was made up for the audience (my words). This is proven at the end of the film when the filmmakers put this at the end of the credits.
Again… This was at the very end of the film. Buried way after the credits, in hope that no one sticks around to see that. But, it does protect them from a lawsuit from anyone associated with the case.
If that doesn’t take away at least a little bit of the credibility, then this will. The executive producer of this film, Forrest Lucas, has made it a point to attack animal lovers and at every turn. In fact, he even founded the hate organization “Protect the Harvest” to fight any type of common-sense animal legislation that comes up. Here is a snippet of his resume:
- In 2010 Forrest Lucas spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to bankroll the opposition to Proposition B in Missouri, which voters approved to set common-sense standards for the care of dogs in large-scale commercial breeding operations (their statement against Prop B can be found here). Lucas then supported an effort in the Missouri legislature to weaken and repeal parts of the voter-approved measure, before it even had a chance to take effect.
- In 2012, Forrest Lucas spent more than a quarter-million dollars opposing Measure 5 in North Dakota, which sought to establish felony-level penalties for malicious cruelty to dogs, cats and horses.
- In 2013, Protect the Harvest lobbied against a local ordinance in Harrison County, Indiana, to promote the spaying and neutering of pets and help reduce pet overpopulation, and in Crawford County, Indiana, to provide adequate shelter for dogs and protect them from the elements.
To put it lightly, Forrest Lucas is NO friend to the animals. Which is why he was happy to help create a film that would spread confusion and misinformation among the general public. In an interview seen here, Forrest admits that he will be putting out a movie like this every 2-3 months now that “The Dog Lover” has officially been released. Four other movies are ready and the sixth one is almost finished being written. The next one, Running Wild, stars Sharon Stone and is about horses. I can’t wait to see what underlying agenda that movie has in store.
Now we can move on to “The Dog Lover” and just how far it strays from the truth. Again, Major spoilers coming your way if you haven’t seen the film (although I recommend still reading).
The story that very loosely inspired this film, originated in Turner County, South Dakota, where 172 of Dan Christensen’s hunting dogs were seized in 2009. During her search on August 27, Rosey Quinn (then current director of the Second Chance Rescue Center) said she saw dogs who were sick with Parvo and intestinal parasites and the conditions they were living in were “deplorable”. This prompted a warrant and the seizure of all of the animals. Animal cruelty charges were later dropped after a judge determined that Quinn misled a judge to get the search and seizure warrant.
The seizure of the dogs and the fact that he was allowed to get them back is where the similarities of this film and the true story end. Even down to the number of dogs (movie claims 100, real breeder had 172).
The film paints a picture of the United Animal Protection Agency (a knock off version of the Humane Society of the United States) and how they encourage a young woman to be an undercover intern at this dog breeding facility. Her job is to go on the property to get as much evidence as she can in order to save the dogs from the puppy mill, including hidden cameras. This never happened. Dan Christensen never took on interns. While two undercover volunteers did come to his property and take photos while they were “looking to buy a puppy”, that is where the story ends. There was no intern living on his property, and there was no love story between his son and an HSUS representative. This fake story line creates the entire movie. Sara Gold, the intern, struggles between what she feels is wrong vs right; she struggles with her new found love; and, at the end, she fights with her employers because they took her undercover footage and manipulated it to tell the story they wanted. Again, none of this ever happened, but it sure makes for a good movie and it creates a distrust between the public and organizations that help educate about and rescue dogs from puppy mills.
Back to Dan Christensen claiming this film was 95% accurate in the last chunk of the film… Now even that is a stretch. In the movie, Holloway (owner of the puppy mill) punches a UAPA member during the raid, he suffers a heart attack when seeing the “awful” conditions that his dogs are living in upon getting into rescue, and he faces a jury trial to deem whether or not the dogs were abused and neglected. None of this ever happened. Are you seeing a recurring theme here? Not much of this film is “based on a true story”. Now back to real life:
Dan Christensen never went to trial, however there were motion hearings over the course of several days that focused on the validity of the search and seizure warrant. While there was limited evidence, there was no jury; No one from the HSUS took the stand, and neither did Christensen. The only similarity between real life and film was that the warrant was thrown out and all charges were dropped because Quinn the judge ruled that Quinn misled him about the evidence used to obtain it.
I want it to be stated more clearly…. These dogs were returned to the breeder because the warrant wasn’t obtained correctly NOT because the animals were being cared for and Christensen deserved them back. At the end of the article, I will post photos from Christensen’s puppy mill. They aren’t pretty, and I want to give our readers a chance to read the full article without fear of seeing them.
The overall message of the film is “Learn the truth, investigate before you donate”, that phrase even pops up on the screen as the movie ends. It isn’t hard to tell when you are watching “The Dog Lover” who the enemy is supposed to be. Protect the Harvest, who routinely attacks the HSUS in real life, created this propaganda film to attack them and other animal welfare organizations on the silver screen. Over and over again the UAPA employees and high-up executives are constantly talking about money, getting raises/promotions and openly discuss tinkering with footage to advance the case. This glaring attack makes it very easy to ignore the fact that Holloway (film) had over 100 dogs living in cages on their property, getting human contact twice a day when they are being fed. It is easy to see that the filmmakers are trying to subconsciously get the public to realize that large-scale dog breeding operations are humane.
So, there you have it. My unsolicited movie review in 1700 words. I hope this helped you realize that not every film that says “based on a true story” is, in fact, true.
— Mindi Callison
Founder/President of Bailing Out Benji
An organization that works tirelessly to educate about puppy mills and rescue animals from all walks of life.
——————- If you don’t want to see photos from ———————-
——————- the actual puppy mill, stop reading here. ——————–
A personal note from Mindi:
I want to end this article by saying that not all dog breeders are puppy mills. This is a fact that is hard for some people to accept. While you may not agree with breeding in general (which is your right), a small, reputable breeder is a far cry from a puppy mill. And this is something that we must remember as animal advocates. There will always be members of the general public who insist on buying a puppy. It is our job to not only show them some adorable adoptable animals, but to educate them on how to avoid purchasing from puppy mills. Demand #ShowMeTheMommy when buying, visit the facility, meet the parents, NEVER buy a puppy in a pet store and absolutely do not ever agree to meet a breeder offsite or have them ship to you.
Here are photos taken the day of the raid on the Dan Christensen property. What do you think? Is he a reputable breeder like the film would have you believe?