A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Stresses importance of animal care, the idea of "adopt, don't shop," spaying and neutering dogs, and helping people who don't have resources to care for their dogs. Also encourages educating dog owners so there aren't as many stray/extra litters.
Positive Role Models
The dog rescue network is full of committed, helpful, brave volunteers who drive thousands of miles a month rescuing dogs, having them spayed/neutered, and placing them in foster homes. Vets who offer low-cost spay/neuter surgeries are placing need above profits with their mission to help underserved areas.
Almost all of the featured rescuers are White, Southern women, but they do cross socioeconomic classes and backgrounds.
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Violence & Scariness
Scenes depict hoarding and animal neglect (e.g., puppies covered in fleas and living in a bucket). A veteran mentions the North Vietnamese in a slightly uncomfortable conversation. He cries while remembering Vietnam.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Discussion of stray dogs mating and causing overpopulation of neglected dogs in the South.
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Rare language, but in one scene, two older brothers who can't care for all of their animals yell at each other: "f--k," "cuss," etc.
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Products & Purchases
A few of the rescuers' car logos are briefly visible: Lexus, Toyota, etc.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Free Puppies! is a documentary about a network of committed volunteers who help and rescue dogs from rural and underserved areas in the South. They work to place them in foster or forever homes or to get them spayed or neutered so that they can stay in their existing homes. Expect a couple of potentially upsetting scenes between the volunteers and two men who have a possible hoarding issue with their animals. One gets teary-eyed while discussing Vietnam and ends up crying about it. He also yells "f--k" at his brother. There are also some tough conversations about shelters that have to euthanize animals and how "no kill" shelters only take cute, well-behaved "adoptable" dogs. This is a thought-provoking documentary that not only pays tribute to dog rescuers but promotes compassion, empathy, and responsible animal care. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This warmhearted documentary shows how important the work these rescuers perform is, particularly in lower-income and rural areas of the Deep South. The filmmakers focus on the three volunteers but also provide interviews with animal rescue experts and nonprofit workers who respect and rely upon their work. Free Puppies! isn't always easy to watch, but the women and the filmmakers are empathetic about some folks' reasons for not spaying or neutering their dogs, which makes it easy for countless unintended extra litters to be born. The women also delve into the myriad reasons that politicians choose not to prioritize funding for animal control or shelters.
Occasionally, the documentary shows how difficult the lives of some dog owners can be, chronicling their circumstances without judgment. One memorable (and sad) sequence features two Vietnam veterans/brothers who live in a remote area with dozens of dogs, including several puppies, some of whom are flea-ridden. They love their animals but don't have the resources to care for them properly. While Free Puppies! isn't groundbreaking, it's touching and inspiring. Audiences with (or who love) dogs may be inspired to help make sure that small, grassroots organizations like the ones featured here have the resources they need to keep saving puppies.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.