Should a living, breathing, frolicking house pet be considered a piece of property? Is it fair to set a statute of limitations on the time it takes pet owners to retrieve their four-legged companions from an animal shelter, if natural disaster forced the separation? And if a new family adopts, renames, and arguably gives a better life to a pet, does the original owner have any right to reclaim their beloved once located? Underreported and overemotional, Geralyn Pezanoski's documentary exposé about dogs displaced during Hurricane Katrina moves slower than a basset hound to get to these and other thorny questions of responsibility, ownership, and, to a lesser degree, class. Beyond haphazardly shot interviews with animal rescuers and adoptive parents, the film tracks a handful of heartbroken Katrina victims who, apparently not having enough bureaucratic clusterfucks in their lives, are unable to find the furry remnants of their ruined homes/lives. Some get third-act reunion uplift thanks to sympathetic "second families," while others push on through their grief. But the tougher, unasked question is whether the estimated 150,000-plus animals who died during Katrina are comparable to the 1,464 human lives this film is decidedly not about.
Owner and dog are reunited.
Runs at SIFF Cinema, Fri., Jan. 22–Wed., Jan. 27. Not rated. 81 minutes.