A new documentary chronicles the battle to save shelter animals from euthanasia and find them a new home.
By Shelby Robinson
Mirah Horowitz, founder and Executive Director of Lucky Dog Animal Rescue, has always had a passion for animals. As a volunteer for another organization, she realized that the problem of pet overpopulation was worse than she had ever imagined and she decided to do something about it.
In May 2009, Horowitz founded Lucky Dog Animal Rescue with the idea to rescue dogs from shelters with an 80-100 percent euthanasia rate and bring them to Washington, D.C. to find their forever homes. The crusade of Horowitz and countless other volunteers is chronicled in The Lucky Ones, a documentary film premiering Sunday at Arlington Cinema & Drafthouse.
Horowitz met local film producer Ryan Pratzel during a dog wash fundraiser for Lucky Dog. Pratzel, owner and executive producer of Creative Liquid Productions in Alexandria, was moved by the Lucky Dog cause and began volunteering his studio and production expertise to Lucky Dog Animal Rescue.
Initially Pratzel produced short informational vignettes called “Lucky Dog of the Week” about the dogs from Lucky Dog Animal Rescue that were having difficulty getting adopted. Both Horowitz and Pratzel were moved by the behind the scenes stories of volunteers from Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Puerto Rico working together to save hundreds of dogs per month from euthanasia. In an early attempt to portray these stories, Horowitz and Pratzel collaborated to produce a documentary short in 2010. As time went on, however, Pratzel’s urge to produce a feature-length film about the Lucky Dog Animal Shelter did not recede.
Last year, Pratzel proposed the concept of The Lucky Ones to Horowitz, who was ecstatic. Horowitz helped with the conceptualization of the film, set Pratzel up with foster owners and adoptive owners, then the pair took a group of volunteers and film crew to some of the shelters in South Carolina and Puerto Rico.
The Lucky Ones conveys the unique relationships and experiences that are shared between the volunteers, adoptive owners and the rescue dogs. Both Pratzel and Horowitz said they feel that when an adoptive owner meets one of the Lucky Dogs, it’s tough for them to fully grasp the story behind the dog’s rescue.
For each dog at the Lucky Dogs Animal Rescue, there is a huge network of volunteers who rescue them from being put down at shelters, donate money so dogs can get medical treatments, who transport them to D.C. and who welcome the dogs into their homes.
“It’s not just about the animals, it’s about the people,” Horowitz said. “It’s about the volunteers, it’s about the foster families and it’s as much about the people as it is about the animals.” The Lucky Ones gives viewers an inside look at the web of volunteers who sacrifice their time and money to help save the lives of hundreds of animals and find them a home.
The Lucky Ones will premiere on Jan. 26 in Arlington. After the premiere, the film will be screened in various film festivals before becoming available for purchase.