Gary Goldstein knows what the audience wants to see and it’s not necessarily an action-packed sci-fi film with actors who only have two legs.
“People want to see a husband, wife, two kids and a dog,” the award-winning screen writer said in a recent interview at Raleigh Studios in Hollywood. Goldsteins’s most recent film “My Boyfriends’ Dogs” featured a Dalmatian, golden retriever and Shih-tzu.
However, some may say that four legged friends glistening in the limelight is not something to encourage because of unhealthy rapid breeding and overworking animals on production sets.
In some cases, the popularity of films including “Air Bud,” “Beverly Hills Chihuahua” and “Marley & Me,” can force breeders towards what’s “popular” causing rapid and unhealthy reproduction which can lead to many pets ending up in shelters or euthanized, according to Science Daily.
French bulldog enthusiast, Kristofer Bailey, posted in a private owners group on Facebook recently stating that he cringes every time he sees a commercial, TV show or movie featuring the up and coming breed.
“When a breed is featured in media outlets, it directly leads to an increase in demand for that breed,” Bailey said on Facebook. “It invariably leads to unethical breeders targeting emotional or status symbol buyers entering the market.”
The trend of buying dogs that were seen in star films began soon after the release of the movie “Lassie Come Home” in 1943. Collie registrations with the American Kennel Club jumped from about 2,000 to over 15,000 puppies a year, according to Psychology Today.
In the decades since Lassie became a star, dozens of other dogs have been in the spotlight. A 2014 study analyzed the relationship between pop culture and pet ownership.
The study reviewed data that consisted of 65 million puppies registered with the American Kennel Club between 1927 and 2005. Among the 29 pooch friendly films researched, the overall popularity of certain breeds did increase at a greater than expected rate in the years following the release of the movies.
Combined with the dramatic increase of certain breeders, there are other threatening factors when it comes to production of animal-friendly films. Some may argue that these furry friends are doing tasks that the normal house pet wouldn’t do.
Tom Grabon, a freelance director, said in a recent e-mail interview that the dogs he has seen on set seem too focused at times and he wishes that they would “act more like normal dogs.” One of the dogs specifically was the skateboarding Jack Russell Terrier, Uggie, which he worked with in a Coke commercial.
“I won’t claim that being on set negatively affects their mentality or that they’re not happy, but they definitely have a business-first look about them,” Grabon said.
Yet, when families miss the warning at the end of “102 Dalmatians” and realize that Pongo may be hard to take care of without proper research, they end up in shelters, according to Roger Ebert’s film review on his website.
Animal rights activist and creator of animalfair.com Wendy Diamond stated in a recent phone interview that she introduced celebrities to the world of rescuing dogs from shelters 15 years ago.
Diamond and her late Maltese, Lucky, hold the Guinness World Record for being the “Animal Most Photographed with Celebrities.” Among the 363 photos there were snaps with Barbara Walters, Hugh Grant and Kim Kardashian.
“I think that movie makers need to be careful about how they are portraying animals in movies and the message that they bring out,” Diamond said. “They need to stop looking at the money that they are making and start looking at what is happening in the world of these animals and that if we could be more responsible in our messaging less animals will end up euthanized a year.”