Whats the story with the puppycide documentary, anyway?

For the last few years, a group calling itself Ozymandias Media (which is in reality a company called Ozymandias Entertainment Inc) has been developing a documentary on the subject of puppycide. Originally, the film was called Puppycide and was to be directed by Michael Ozias, principal of Ozymandias Entertainment Inc and a former editor of the TV show Kitchen Nightmares, and written by Patrick Reasonover. There was a Kickstarter that raised $45,463 all the way back in November of 2013.

For many who are new to the topic and starting out with doing some research, the now-defunct website for Ozymandias Media's film is the first thing they come across; the original webpage for the documnetary still resides at "puppycide.com" and has been mentioned regularly by newspapers in articles covering police shootings of animals.

Puppycide Documentary original poster

Even the Puppycide Database Project is occasionally mistaken to have some affiliation with the film. The first time this happened a year ago, it drew our attention to the movie, which had then recently completed its Kickstarter campaign. One of our founders reached out to Ozymandias Media in order to introduce ourselves and to provide them with the same offer that we make to ever non profit, news and media organization we come across with similar goals: any time they wanted access to any of our research, we would provide them with everything we have ever compiled absolutely free of charge with no strings attached.

We never received a reply.

The Twitter feed for the documentary - @puppycide - was very active prior to and during their Kickstarter campaign. Since December 2013, the account has released four tweets; about one every five months. There were rumors that the film had fallen apart. It's not unusual for film productions to take a long time - it's standard. It does tend to be unusual for film productions that rely on Kickstarters to not have a public presence. The fact is that movies are not easy to make under any circumstances, and many productions don't make it to a finished product.

This was the trailer created to support the film's Kickstarter, released in October 2013:

As it turns out, the successful Kickstarter campaign was the second Kickstarter launched by Ozymandias Entertainment in order to get the film going. The first Kickstarter sought $100,000 as its target but only raised around $60,000. The second go-around the target was lowered to $40,000.

A year after the second Kickstarter with very little communication, Ozymandias updated their Kickstarter page and let everyone know that the movie had a new name and there would soon be a new website:

First things first: The title of the documentary is now "Of Dogs and Men". We felt Puppycide was an effective title in that it is a term the internets have adopted for exactly these kinds of incidents, but we also found that it was a divisive and politically charged word. This lead us to seek out a new title that we felt more appropriate to the content and discussion of the issue. The new website will be found at OfDogsAndMen.net and we will let you all know when that is live.

So the new title is now set to be Of Dogs and Men, and lives on a website of the same name.

Of Dogs and Men documentary poster

The justification for the name change is frankly, concerning (and a bit reminiscent of a recent Washington Post headline). Police violence is by its nature "divisive and politically charged"; any attempt to discuss it using anything but the most vague and meaningless terms will be upsetting to some. At the same time, 'Puppycide' isn't the most aesthetically pleasing term, so we gave this BS justification a pass.

Along with the new title, website and poster recently came a new trailer:

Its great to see that the project is really starting to pull together. Despite the recent wave of interest in police shootings that have swept across the nation, with Baltimore the latest city torn apart following a senseless act of police violence, the public lacks the resources and facts that would allow for a wider understanding of the problems with modern law enforcement and as a result practical solutions to these problems lack political utility. The Puppycide Database Project remains the only publicly available, nationwide searchable database of police killings of animals. Meanwhile Fatal Encounters provides the same functionality for police shootings of human beings. Resources and committed volunteers are scarce. The fact remains that the government's active refusal to do the work that our organizations do is an incomprehensible dereliction of duty and a betrayal of the public trust. Anyone interested can readily find the number of individual shop lifters in any state, county or city in the United States - often using only a computer. But if you want to find how many citizens have been murdered, you are out of luck. Given the interest and funding available for statistics driven policing, its clear that leaving out police murder numbers isn't a mistake. It is intentional. It is a situation that is completely untenable (do you want your town to look like Baltimore?)

So let's hope this documentary is an honest appraisal of this facet of the crisis of police violence. Should Of Dogs and Men meet that criteria, let's also hope it's wildly successful. And should the good folks at Ozymandias be reading this - don't whitewash this "divisive" issue. Not only will we be watcing, but so will the families who lost friends and love ones.