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/narrator David Duchovny, of an inspiring new documentary that explores the lives of abandoned pets.
The film, 'Best Friend Forgotten,' will premiere in more than 20 cities in the US and Canada as part of a Hollywood-style tour from November to February that aims to raise awareness of the pet overpopulation crisis in 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 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 percent of the funds 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, a national non-profit organization that promotes human responsibility to animals through the media.
The theatrical tour is presented in partnership with Petfinder.com, a national online pet adoption Web site, and with the assistance of PBS affiliate stations.
The film will also air on PBS Animal Planet Canada this winter. Director 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 thoughtful and balanced 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 ('X-files', 'Evolution', 'Return to Me') became friends with Lofton after the two met at a Los Angeles vegetarian lunch spot.
Duchovny, an animal lover himself, hosts and narrates the film with his trademark wit. He 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 of the 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.
"Animals can't speak for themselves. They can't tell you that they are sitting in shelters waiting for you to adopt them. That's why it's so important for us to get the word out for them. I believe this film will give the animals a voice," said Lofton.
More information about the screenings and Give Voice to Animals can be found online at www.givevoicetoanimals.org.