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‘Free Puppies!’ review: Helping those who can’t help themselves

Home sweet home.

Free Puppies! is a documentary that is going to tug at the heartstrings. Even before social media, pictures and videos of beautiful dogs would fill people with happiness. Stories of rescue dogs finding their new families would bring tears to the eyes of everyone but the most hardened. While there is some of that here, filmmakers Samantha Wishman and Christina Thomas looks at things from a different angle. Going to areas where there are no public animal services, the film follows volunteers in the rural counties of the Tennessee Valley who are trying to help stray and surrendered dogs. This includes rescuing dogs from kill shelters and setting up an affordable neuter-and-spay program.

It sounds like Wishman and Thomas are playing to the audience’s emotions, and there are plenty of moments that will engender feeling, but their main goal is to shine a spotlight on the work being done. A great example is watching the work of the many volunteers. It is heartwarming watching how 51 puppies were saved from a kill shelter and eventually given homes. At the same time, it focuses on how impoverished Southern regions do not have the infrastructure needed to prevent such widespread neglect.

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In its efforts to showcase the efforts of the dog rescuers, Free Puppies! does not demonize anyone. Things movie quickly – the runtime is barely over an hour – which does not give time for a deep dive into any of the people or problems introduced. The objective is to highlight the compassion and dedication of the the women rescuers.

It may seem like a callous decision to bring attention to the well-being of the dogs without taking a hard look at the root of the problem. As Free Puppies! continues, it becomes clear the situation is not being ignored. Instead, the focus is put on the people who are trying to do something to alleviate the issue. It is a heartwarming and inspirational documentary.

Free Puppies! comes to VOD December 13

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