6 user 3 critic

Shelter Dogs (2003)

Shelter Dogs is a provocative and heartrending look at the complex issues surrounding animal sheltering through the tale of one shelter and its staff. This feature length documentary takes ... See full summary »


Cynthia Wade
4 wins. See more awards »


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Credited cast:
Sue Sternberg Sue Sternberg ... Herself


Shelter Dogs is a provocative and heartrending look at the complex issues surrounding animal sheltering through the tale of one shelter and its staff. This feature length documentary takes the viewer into the gray zone of the national animal welfare system where quality-of-life issues take center stage. At the heart of the documentary is Sue Sternberg, an animal welfare pioneer who has created Rondout Valley Kennels, a model animal shelter in Upstate New York. At Rondout Valley Kennels, dogs live in suites decorated with rugs and chairs. They listen to piped-in music and receive training. Each dog is carefully assessed and temperament tested. If a dog is mentally deteriorating in the shelter or shows aggression, Sue will euthanize the dog, believing that it is a more humane option than a lifetime in the shelter. As Sue agonizes over each animal, faces rising debt, and becomes increasingly worried, the audience is given a first-hand look at the difficult ethical choices shelter staff ... Written by info@shelterdogs.org

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Plot Keywords:

dog | animal shelter | euthanasia | See All (3) »


Documentary | Drama



Official Sites:

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Release Date:

March 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Katafygia skylon See more »

Filming Locations:

Accord, New York, USA

Company Credits

Production Co:

Red Hen Productions See more »
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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


Sue Sternberg: Sometimes I wonder, when I die, if there is a Purgatory-if there will be a choice made for me between Heaven and Hell. And all the dogs I have euthanized, what if they are the ones who judge me?
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User Reviews

had me in tears...
18 September 2004 | by BigTimeMovieDudeSee all my reviews

I almost NEVER cry at movies but this one was just too much. It wasn't so much the sad moments as it was the sweet ones that leave you so emotional, such as when a dog that would normally be considered "unplaceable" is rescued by some good-hearted soul who sees the beauty in them, even though they may not be perfect or a "puppy" that everyone seems to want. The older dogs like Agnes who get shunned simply because they're older are the ones that break your heart.

On one hand, this is a very tough film to watch -- I've never seen a dog put down before and to see it as it happens (and how fast the injection kills them) is heart-wrenching. On the other hand, it is a very necessary film -- as someone who has worked with rescue groups and has a rescue of his own, I feel for the people and dogs involved in these tough situations.

The lesson to be learned is that if you are thinking of adopting an animal, remember that it is a COMMITMENT FOR LIFE -- the life of the animal, that is. In the grand scheme of things, it's not that much work to care for a dog but if you absolutely must give yours up, do not delude yourself into thinking that it will find another home, because the truth is most of them do not. The sad reality is that there is no one out there looking for your dog and they will most likely meet the same heartbreaking fate as most of the dogs in this movie.

5 million per year are homeless... and most stay that way.

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