HBO – One Nation Under Dog

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Americans have always had a love affair with canines, but lost amidst the pampering are unpleasant truths about dog ownership, care and commerce. One Nation Under Dog offers an eye-opening, three-part portrait of America’s complex relationship with dogs.

“Part One – Fear”: In the opening segment, Dr. Robert Taffet is taken to court by neighbors after several bite incidents involving his Rhodesian Ridgebacks in suburban New Jersey. Despite the severity of some of the attacks, he is deeply committed to his pets and wins his cases, including one in which a three-year-old girl’s ear was bitten off. Eight months later, after the same dog bites a teenager, Dr. Taffet puts him down.

“Part Two – Loss”: The second section focuses on people coping with the loss of beloved pets. This segment features a group of mourners sharing deep grief over recently deceased dogs in a pet-loss support group at the San Francisco SPCA; two women laying their dog to rest in the oldest pet cemetery in the U.S.; and a couple attempting to replace a beloved dog by cloning him. Also featured is Julie Adams, whose own love and loss of dogs has inspired her rescue work; with no shelters in her rural area, she’s taken it upon herself to care for and shelter more than 100 stray and abandoned dogs.

“Part Three – Betrayal”: The final section explores issues of overpopulation, shelters, rescuing, spaying and neutering. Approximately two million dogs are destroyed in animal shelters each year. This segment features three minutes of graphic footage shot by a film student showing dogs and puppies being euthanized.

Many people do not know that 25% of dogs in shelters are actually purebreds, and many pet store dogs come from mass breeding operations known as puppy mills. For many dogs from mills and animal shelters, rescue is the only hope of survival. This segment follows volunteers saving some 200 puppy mill dogs from these dire conditions, including rescuer-trainer John Gagnon, who rehabilitates aggressive, difficult-to-adopt dogs and works with an organization to find them good homes, and Shawn South-Aswad, who raises money to rescue dogs and place them with foster families.

8 thoughts on “HBO – One Nation Under Dog”

  1. I watched this last night and it was heart breaking! It does show some of the great work that rescuers and trainers do and the love that some dog owners have for their pets, but there is a 3-minute long segment in the middle that was extremely hard to watch. I hope this opens the eyes of the public!

    • Lynn sadly those that SHOULD watch and be aware generally are in denial, by choice, or lack of realizing they are part of the problem. I help with some adoption fairs, just recently started doing so, although participations been my life long dream. I am always pulled to the shy and fearful ones with the goal to get their confidence. All are pulled from kill shelters, all safe in foster homes but the fear stays with some longer, they need help cross learning there are more people they can trust but the one that pulled them from shelters, and their foster. For me it’s a selfish endeavor as when the shy ones finally trust it’s the best feeling in the world for me.

  2. The Holocaust solution seems to work best for mankind. Although I feel ashamed to be a part of the human race I must do my part. I would love to get my hands on the man that turns that gas knob. SOB gets paid for murder? How does this SOB sleep at night? A very legitimate question. You would have to be a sociopath to do that job.

    • Perhaps he’s not proud of what he does… in fact, maybe he’s sickened by it. It does say that the workers allowed the student to film this. This may be their best, and perhaps only, way to deliver a hard, stark, very real message to the population at large — for in reality, they are forcing things to come to this through denial and willful ignorance of a huge problem.

    • I do agree, how does this guy sleep because I shure in the hell did no last night. That was far from humane and the cries from the chamber made me so ill. I am a avid animal lover and both of my dogs were from the shelter. We need to find more ways to educate people about fixing the animals and producing unwanted puppies and cats. Our country will pass out money to other countries or take care of illegals but, we need more no kill shelters and better ways to crack down on offenders.

  3. Shame on those people in NJ and the judges who allowed their dog to attack 9 people. How can they be allowed to get away with that. The HBO show made them look like they were the victims…unreal.

    • Money, money, money…and his status allowed them to continue. You heard the doctor say that up to that point he had spent two years college tuition at a decent college. Had he been before that court as a laborer and barely any cash flow, it wouldn’t have lasted more than the initial court session.

      I lived in Haddonfield, NJ when this was all transpiring. It made one think where you took a walk.

      I have no doubt the doctor loves his Rhodesians and Duke, the one put down finally, but when do you at least get a clue that other than you and your immediate family, no one should EVER be allowed near these dogs? Being a surgeon, having the intelligence to accomplish and succeed in that profession, it does not guarantee an individual has common sense. True love of his canine family would have dictated he would have done anything possible to ensure they had a private life, and hence a quiet life, within his suburban home or his farm, away from neighbors, passersby, children’s friends. I’ve had dogs that were not properly socialized (and I constantly tried to get them past that in controlled situations) – I constantly kept an eye on them, I had them in the back yard with a 6 ft solid fence and locked gate, and when I did walk them in the neighborhood, if anyone approached me, I absolutely walked the other way!! Why ask for trouble or a possible hard to control or bad situation??

      I don’t think the special portrayed the doctor and his family as victims. What it did was show how (just like many parents and their children) they couldn’t accept the harsh reality of what they had in their midst. It did show the love between them and Duke. Plus it showed, even after the hideous things this dog did, just how hard it was to euthanize Duke.

  4. I also watch this documentary, I am from Bolivia and I´d like to have those rescue teams here. In 2 hours more everybody here is gonna celebrate new year and I cannot stop to cry… in the way to home I saw a dog crashed by a car (I supposed) he was looking at me, but I dont have a car to carry him, there is not a vet open at this time, tomorrow is gonna be january first. Iam so sad and cannot stop imagine all the suffer and pain that he is feeling right now. And many others thinking come to my mind, Dont know where is its owner, why in the schools dont´t teach how to love animals and to take care of them. Thanks to HBO for all the message they send to people. God bless all His creation.


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