Fort Lauderdale, Fla. – What began as an attempt to spotlight the disturbing phenomenon of dogs being dumped in the Florida Everglades instead exposes one volunteer animal rescue group’s rogue actions and questionable methods.
“The Dogmatic”, a short film directed by high school junior Lance Oppenheim, profiles Amy Restucci, the President of 100+ Abandoned Dogs of Everglades Florida.
The volunteer organization had already garnered publicity in the National Enquirer, claiming to have rescued hundreds of animals left in the Florida swamps by victims of the economic crisis.
But while Oppenheim and his crew expected the group to save stray dogs that were roaming in the streets during their time chronicling the group’s efforts, what they witnessed was far more complicated.
Restucci and other overzealous volunteers engaged in controversial activities to save dogs they considered at risk, including jumping fences and seizing dogs from what appears to be private property, while putting their physical well-being in jeopardy.
Restucci’s methods have since been questioned in several media reports and critics have accused “100+ Abandoned Dogs” of taking healthy dogs that did not need rescue.
Viewers are presented with Ms. Restucci, who is consumed by her mission to rescue animals and willing to take any risk to fulfill that mission. But the film does not take sides, and leaves it to the audience to determine if her efforts are too extreme.
“I recognize the controversy surrounding the issues presented in the film,” says Oppenheim, “and I have purposely left it to viewers to formulate their own opinion.”
Already the film has garnered wide exposure online. Since premiering just over two weeks ago on Vimeo, a video sharing site created by filmmakers for filmmakers, the documentary has garnered over 17,000 views.
It is being featured as a Vimeo staff pick, and has received praise from Vimeo users.
“As society starts to crumble under the economic strain, the once domesticated dog adopts a new label, the street dog is born. I was gripped throughout,” says Vimeo user The Film Artist.
“Amazing doc,” adds Vimeo user Light Search, “This is a doc about people who realize that the world's real rules aren't written down.”
“Very bravely done.” says Tracy Pitts.
Restucci herself has no qualms about her controversial actions. After posting “The Dogmatic” on her group’s Facebook page, she told her 17,000+ Facebook followers, “We know firsthand the conditions these poor animals are forced to live in. Dogs roaming the streets, nurseries where they will shoot the dogs for going after their livestock due to being forced to forge for themselves. Any regrets? Absolutely NOT!”
The Opp-Guide, a non-profit which connects youth nationwide with service opportunities, co-produced the documentary as part of its ongoing mission to spotlight important social issues.
About The Opp-Guide
Founded in South Florida in 2004, the Opp-Guide helps youth locate service opportunities they find interesting so they can continue to serve their community. In 2011 the Opp-Guide mobile App was developed and is available for free on the iTunes store. The app allows anyone to search a nationwide directory of nearly 300,000 nearby community service opportunities by zip code, category, keyword and map with personalized results.
About Lance Oppenheim
Oppenheim, 16, is a junior at Pine Crest School in Fort Lauderdale, where he started the Pine Crest film club. His previous film, “Reconciliation”, was honored as the Best Documentary at the Santa Monica Teen Film Festival. Oppenheim serves as the president for the Opp-Guide and is the developer of the Opp-Guide mobile app. He is also a member of the national youth advisory board for GenerationOn and serves on Youth Leadership Broward.
Organize a beach clean up. Tutor foster kids. Volunteer at the local animal shelter. The Opp-Guide helps high school students find the best community service opportunities in your neighborhood. Search nearby community service organizations by zip code, category, keyword and map results to personalized community service with your interests in mind.