With 70 million stray animals in the U.S. and six to eight million dogs and cats entering shelters each year, pet homelessness continues to be a large and seemingly unmanageable issue. Despite the high euthanasia rate in U.S. shelters, there are more life-saving efforts in place for animals than there were in times before.
People from all walks of life are becoming increasingly conscious of animal suffering and animal sentience. They are getting involved to do what they can to help animals – both wild and domestic alike — and the animal protection movement seems to be growing exponentially with new shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries popping up each year.
While walking through New York City one day in 2012, Hoaglund decided to approach a number of “interesting looking” dogs, as she puts it, and speak with their guardians. Upon learning that all 50 caretakers she interviewed had rescued their companions from kill shelters or the streets, she began to delve further into the rescue movement and discovered how it is not only changing the lives of animals, but also transforming us and our relationship with animals.
It was this experience – along with what she has learned over the years from her two rescued cats, Sweetie and Bones – that inspired her to undertake another documentary project and bring “The Wound and The Gift” to life.
Entering its final stages, which will be aided by the caring public through a Kickstarter campaign poised to raise $40,000 for finishing costs, “The Wound and The Gift” explores the amazing work being done for animals at a selection of compassionate sites.
Places and events featured in the film include W.O.L.F. Sanctuary in Colorado, a Best Friends Animal Society’s Super Adoption event in New York, Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado, James River Work Farm in Virgina, Crane Village in Hokkaido, Japan, and The Blessing of the Animals event in New York at St. John the Divine cathedral.
At each of these events and places, Hoaglund and her team met individuals of different backgrounds working toward a common goal – to care for and save non-human animals.
At Wild Animal Sanctuary, they met “300 tigers, wolves, bears and other animals that Pat Craig, the founder, takes care of on enormous natural habitats sprawling over 750 acres,” as Hogalund tells OGP.
Hoaglund saw similar passion for the underserved at W.O.L.F. Sanctuary, where over 100 rescued “wolf-dogs” are cared for, and at the James River Work Farm, where she was particularly struck by how animal rescue transforms every life involved.
At this Va. sanctuary, non-violent inmates receive the opportunity to groom and care for horses who have been injured or rescued from slaughterhouses.
“The expressions of humility I encountered on those prisoners’ faces as they interacted with the magnificent former racehorses is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life,” Hoaglund tells OGP.
So inspired by what she witnessed at the James River Work Farm, she began to wonder, “who is saving who? Are humans saving animals, or are wounded animals saving us, with their gift of trusting humans again?”
In addition to each rescue narrative in the film, there are illustrated scenes from a Japanese folktale called Tsuru no Ongaeshi.
“In Japanese fables, when an animal pays a visit to humans, it is considered a blessing. In this fable, an old peasant finds a wounded crane and mends her wound. Soon after, a stranger visits the home of the old peasant and his wife, seeking shelter. The peasants accept her into their home and their visitor decides to express her gratitude with a gift,” Hoaglund tells us.
The folktale is an integral part of the documentary as “the meaning and the nature of the gift” is revealed through its featured stories of animal rescue.
“I have come to believe that the ancient fable foretells both the current captured wildlife crisis and the rescue movement, because humans are capable of both rescuing and wounding animals. The choice is ours,” Hoaglund states.
Believing that a single person can change an animal’s life and that every individual can help save animals, Hoaglund hopes that “The Wound and the Gift” will encourage people to get out there and participate in the ever-growing rescue movement.
“I have only one goal for people who see the film to take away from it: To imagine the inner lives of animals in a new way so that they are inspired to adopt an animal from a kill shelter or volunteer to spend time caring for them in shelters and sanctuaries,” says Hoaglund.
Check out some scenes from “The Wound and the Gift” below, and be sure to keep an eye out for the film once it hits theaters!
To help the team of “The Wound and the Gift” bring the documentary’s message to the masses, consider making a donation to their Kickstarter campaign and spreading the word by following the film’s Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr.
Lead image source: “The Wound and the Gift”