Documentary Review: Give Me Shelter

By TPH Intern Estelle Kraft

I am not normally the person to choose to watch a documentary while browsing Netflix after a day at school, working or riding, but Give Me Shelter grabbed my attention. Give Me Shelter, created by Katie Cleary and directed by Kristin Rizzo, is a 2014 documentary revealing the hardships and ‘behind the scenes’ work of the animal welfare world. Watching this documentary pulled me into a different mind set as a dog lover, an equestrian, and overall animal lover.

When I was eleven,  my family got a puppy. We scoured the internet to find a breeder for German Shorthaired Pointers and drove a few hours to purchase and pick her up. We bought  my dog which makes me feel somewhat ashamed because Cleary and various animal rights activists, through this documentary, explain what happens in puppy mills and when you purchase a dog. Do not get me wrong, I love my dog, Posey, and think she is an incredible addition to our family.  But, it makes me sad knowing that we could have adopted a pure breed dog of our choice, even a puppy, from a local animal shelter and potentially saved that animal’s  life. I have worked with animal shelters and dog adoption agencies for the past few years more closely than before, and have had first hand experience with animals that are from a shelter, need a home, and are just as kind and loving as my dog,

I have been riding horses since I was six and, believe it or not, have loved them since my first trip to a farm in kindergarten. Little did I know then that the pony in the pretty red barn lived a really difficult life of exhaustion from countless pony rides. Equestrians are given the gift of working with horses everyday, and, yes, it is a gift because horses spread a message of love and companionship everyday. Give Me Shelter dives into the ‘behind the scenes’ of what happens when the pony you bought your child for her eighth birthday is no longer wanted, or money gets too tight and the horse gets dropped off at a shelter or becomes a “donation.” As equestrians, we need to remember that the animals we care so much for are a commitment that we must responsibly follow through on. We must concern ourselves with their future well-being and care.

Give Me Shelter is an incredibly informative documentary on the animal welfare world and what we can do as citizens to stop these hardships. The hour and a half I spent watching this documentary helped me realize that the choices that we make as consumers affect a larger population beyond our families and local economies. Our decisions and commitment change how animals are treated, especially when people carelessly purchase an animal and then want to discard it. Cleary’s message is clearly conveyed and allows every viewer to connect to the movie, myself included. I recommend that everyone who has a pet, is planning on getting a dog, visiting a zoo or even just buying cat food at a boutique pet shop watch this documentary. If you were as motivated as I was to find the next step, it would be volunteering at your local animal shelter and seeing how you can get involved.

This documentary can be watched on Netflix, Itunes, Amazon, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, Vudu, CinemaNow and for purchase HERE.