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Old November 13th, 2003, 02:14 PM
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Documentary explores how abandoned pets are handled by society

Their only crime is being free
(Posted Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2003)

By Andrew Matte

David Duchovny is an animal lover and the narrator and host of the movie 'Best Friends Forgotten.'
Clover the dog and Oreo the cat may be a couple of strays, but they are about to change a lot of lives.

They are the stars, along with host and narrator David Duchovny, of a new documentary that explores the lives of abandoned pets.

Itís being unveiled at the Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts Nov. 16 at 7:15 p.m.

The film, Best Friend Forgotten, will premiere in more than 20 cities in the U.S. and Canada as part of a Hollywood-style tour from November to February that aims to raise awareness of the pet overpopulation crisis in North America.

The red carpet premiere was the idea of the film's executive producer/director, Julie Lofton, a television writer/producer and founder of Give Voice to Animals, a national animal group focusing on creating wide spread media products.

The cities that were selected for the premiere tour have the highest populations of stray animals in the nation.

"The plague of pet overpopulation is invisible to most people, and this movie will bring it home to them. They will get to meet the people at their local shelters and join forces with them to help end this crisis," said Lofton.

Up to 50 per cent of the money raised at the premiere will benefit local shelters who are participating in the event.

Remaining funds will go to the sponsors of the tour, Give Voice to Animals, an America non-profit organization that promotes human responsibility to animals.

Lofton, a former stand up comedian, decided to get serious about the problem of pet overpopulation after volunteering at a Los Angeles shelter where she saw countless animals euthanized because the shelter was overcrowded.

"Working in the entertainment industry, I saw the media's power to get out a message. I felt the most effective way to promote human responsibility to our animal companions was to make a film that moved and entertained people," said Lofton.

The film is a heartwarming and heart wrenching story that takes viewers on a journey that begins on the streets of Los Angeles and Chicago where Clover, a Lab mix, and Oreo, a black and white cat, are rescued and taken to animal shelters.

The film follows the two through the shelter system where they will either be adopted or meet the fate of millions of other homeless pets who are euthanized.

The film offers a look at the controversial practice of euthanasia and the alternative "no-kill" movement.

"My hope is that this movie will motivate people to go to their local shelter and take home a loving animal companion. For those who have dogs and cats at home, I hope the film will encourage them to spay and neuter their pets," said Lofton.

Actor David Duchovny, who became famous for his role of Fox Mulder on the Fox series X Files, became friends with Lofton after the two met at a Los Angeles vegetarian lunch spot.

Duchovny appears with a German Shepherd mix Lenny, a stand-in for his own camera-shy pooch. The actor looks into the camera and deadpans, "If my dog Blue is watching at home, this stuff with Lenny, that's just acting . . . it meant absolutely nothing."

Other entertainment celebrities such as musician Peter Gabriel have become fans of the film. Gabriel called the film "A brilliant documentary that needs to be seen by anyone who loves animals."

U.S. Senator Dick Durbin, also a friend to animals, appears in the documentary to offer his official view on the problem of pet overpopulation and the $2 billion that it costs the nation every year.
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