Roots Of Rescue Documentary

May 25, 2013  •  1 Comment
The date was May 24th, 2013.  A few hundred animal rescue workers, rescue organizations, advocates and members of the community gathered at Helena Amphitheater for what was to be an awesome night.  The weather was just about perfect.  Cool, light breeze around 65 degrees, and very few bugs, but that was just the beginning.  As the night progressed the stage was setup with music equipment, several technology devices and a huge projection screen.  The event was the Birmingham area premier of the Roots Of Rescue documentary, created by Joe Olivieri and David Cowardin.  Two film makers from Duluth, MN traveled to Alabama in search of making a film about the animal cruelty that exists.  In their own words..."The culture shock that we experienced was much greater than anticipated."

"We are filming a documentary about the culture of animal cruelty in the south and the grassroots effort to change it.  Our project, "Roots of Rescue," began in January 2012 when we traveled south to Alabama to film animal cruelty. It focuses on individuals across the state who are working not only to save dogs, but to change the culture of cruelty that exists in many areas. 
We traveled to Alabama not as animal activists but as journalists trying to learn more about a culture. A culture of animal cruelty that we, as Minnesotans, are unfamiliar with. We found that the issue is largely going unnoticed, but there are people fighting to bring it to the light. People pouring their retirement funds into helping neglected animals. People who seem to be in the cultural minority.  The culture shock that we experienced was much greater than anticipated."  I cannot express how important the work they have done and continue to promote is.
Joe Oliveri & David Cowardin of LoLa Visuals
At the premier I met a husband and wife named Bonnie and her husband Tim, who was wearing a very loud orange shirt by the way.  She saw my booth and approached me about the SAVE THEM image and wanted to know if I sold them.  I told her the posters were on sale for the movie premier but she was very taken with the pawtographed canvas print of SAVE THEM, but she didn't have the money to afford any prints and she would have to get one another time.  I wanted to keep it a surprise the image is shown in the movie.
While watching the ROR documentary I, like most people in attendance, were introduced to a very special lady named Bonnie Miller and her husband Tim.  Bonnie is an Animal Cruelty investigator in Greene County Alabama.  It is a state law in Alabama that each county must provide resources and shelter for animals in need.  Greene County has no animal shelter, very few resources for these types of crime, and Bonnie does her work for free.  She puts in 70+ hours a week, has rescued animals in shelter at her home, feeds them, takes them for regular veterinary care, does daily maintenance for the dogs, cleans their kennels, and does this for NO pay, and receives no health benefits.  I was stunned, mouth open and everything.  I have heard some heroic tales in animal rescue but Bonnie's just blew me away.  This is a woman that would help you to the ends of the Earth if you are willing to help your animals, but DO NOT under any circumstances cross her.
I was so moved by her story and the difficult if not impossible decisions she has to make every single day, and get up the next day and do it all over again.  Bonnie says "If I quit, the abusers win, the animals lose."  I have the utmost respect for Bonnie and Tim, and found a new inspiration to continue helping as much as I can to this incredible cause.  At the end of the night I got a chance to talk to Bonnie again and this time, she would not go away without a print.  I asked her and her husband to come over while I hid the print from sight.  I then told her how much I respected her and that "I am giving you this pawtographed canvas print of SAVE THEM."  I don't think I have ever seen someone so surprised or happy in my life.  I was then graciously invited to come down to Greene County and visit them and that I had a new lifelong friend.  If we were both the crying type we just might have, but with the things we see in rescue this was not a reason to cry but to celebrate.
Presenting Bonnie Miller (Greene County, AL Animal Cruelty Officer) with a SAVE THEM canvas print
Joe Oliveri (with Charmin), Bonnie Miller & Dave Cowardin (with Lenny Lou)
I also had the pleasure of meeting Joe and David's rescue dogs Charmin and Lenny Lou.  Sometimes it takes a fresh set of eyes to show you how your house looks from the outside.  These guys are shining light on the animal cruelty issues we have in the Southeast and moreover how it is grossly overlooked as acceptable, no form of cruelty is acceptable.  The irony of this is that Joe was not a dog person before they set out on this endeavor.  He adopted Charmin from an Alabama rescue.
"We expected to see animals tied up improperly and some situations of abuse. We expected to have to look hard for the problem but instead it presented itself to us: we found dead dogs on the side of road everywhere (one nearby an elementary school). Those sights were new to us but common and overlooked by many who live in the south."
Volunteer, educate, rescue, donate, GET UP AND DO SOMETHING.  It should not take someone who does not live here to tell you that animal cruelty is wrong.  "Get educated.  Get involved.  Make a difference."
I would also like to send many, MANY huge thanks and congratulations to Christina Tatum of Faithful Paws Mission for her tireless work in animal rescue, and for putting together such an awesome event for us to gather and celebrate this movie.  She did a fabulous job with everything and what a great night it was.  To learn more about Faithful Paws Mission, please visit their website:
To learn more Roots Of Rescue and to purchase the movie visit their website:



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