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Movie Review: Dealing Dogs

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In a depressed fog of judgment, due in part to cold medicine and sheer boredom, I recently decided to watch the HBO documentary Dealing Dogs. I love dogs. Dogs bring me joy, especially my own dog. If I could, I’d have a whole slew of dogs. I would love to rescue dogs. Heck, I would quit my job to run a no-kill dog shelter, if I could. Having a dog has truly opened my eyes to the wonderful world that is being a dog parent. Dog is love.

So an exposé documentary about the shady, backwoods dog-dealing industry wherein dogs – mostly beagles, mind you – are sold to clinical research labs for an incredible profit sounded like a good idea, seeing as I was in a drunken, hazy stupor of being sick. In retrospect, maybe not such a good idea.

An animal rights activist decided to go undercover to shed light on a notoriously inhumane Class B dog dealer in Arkansas. The dealer, known as C.C. Baird, bought dogs (some unwanted pets, some stolen from rich neighborhoods) for cheap, “sheltered” them on his property and then sold them into clinical research trials for a lot more money. The thing is, C.C. Baird was a businessman, not an animal lover. At all. He kept upwards of 600 dogs penned up at one time, most sick or near death, living in their own piss, shit and squalor. They did not receive proper vet care and in some cases, they were killed for no apparent reason other than having “behavioral issues.”

The activist, whose identity was shielded, got a job at the dog shelter by earning the trust of its owner and workers, bugged himself with cameras and microphones for audio and video proof of the cruel goings-on at the shelter, and had to pretend it was OK to be treating dogs like shit. This, all in the name of shutting down this dog dealer for violations of the Animal Welfare Act.

The premise sounded great, at first. But watching Dealing Dogs was like watching Schindler’s List, but for beagles. What the undercover activist saw first-hand was absolutely horrifying. Dogs were dragged around by ropes, beaten if they misbehaved, dunked in chemical baths, and ignored if they were hurt, sick or injured. They were kept in small kennels with four other dogs, forced to fight for one bowl of food, and sprayed down with freezing water every day. When dogs were found dead, which was often, they were hidden underneath a sheet of plywood and eventually taken to trenches away from the property where they were mutilated and left to decompose among trash.

I sat and watched this documentary with my mouth open, tears streaming down my face. When one dog, a small cocker spaniel, was punished for biting a handler who shoved its head to the ground, the handler decided the dog should be killed. The undercover activist witnessed the handler shoot the dog in the head with a shotgun, not once, but four times. He then said to the undercover activist in his ignorant Southern drawl, “That bad dog shouldn’t be breathing the same air as the good dogs.” It was at that scene that I lost it. The shelter was like a concentration camp for dogs, and the hardest part for me was that every other dog was a beagle. A sweet, shy brown-eyed beagle. Just like my own little Sierra. Apparently beagles are the most common dog used in clinical research. I did not know this.

After five months – FIVE MONTHS – of witnessing the horrible inhumane acts against animals he was fighting for and yet he could do nothing at that time for fear of being exposed and possibly shot – the undercover activist decided he had enough footage to bring a federal case against C.C. Baird and his shelter. After years of further investigation, the shelter was eventually shut down, and C.C. Baird and his family were forced to pay huge fines and serve jail time for what they did to countless dogs. In the end, this particular dog dealer was brought down. But there are more dealers and shelter owners just like him out there, operating their concentration camps, evading the Animal Welfare Act.

It makes me sick. And I feel I must do something about it. I can’t adopt rescue dogs, just yet. I don’t have extra money to donate to the cause. But I do have my free time. And I am going to look into what it takes to volunteer at a local no-kill shelter. I have to do it. For the love of my beagle. For the love of all dogs who do not deserve to be treated like, well, dogs.

As horrible as it was to watch Dealing Dogs, I feel it’s essential for everyone to be made aware of the situation portrayed in the documentary. Right now, you can catch Dealing Dogs on HBO at various times, and via HBO On Demand.

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About Jenifer Gonzales

  • REading your blog was like reading my exact thoughts after watching this documentary…

    Bawled like a little baby! Glad I’m not the only one this show touched.

  • Simone

    …looking at those imploring, hurt eyes of beagles & others I found myself crying & speaking to the TV screen “It’s gonna be OK baby” the rescued dogs at the end who still raised their little paws in self defence…even though they were finally safe. To Baird,..I rest knowing that you shall be judged & punished in this life & the next. I hope you and your VILE posser die very soon. And I hope you die in horrific circumstances.

  • Emz

    I felt the exact same way about this documentary, and I was going to make a blog just to write something on this documentary. I was up late last night watching HBO when Dealing Dogs came one. I figured, why not watch it. I thought it was absolutely great that Baird lost all his money, since that what he was in the business for in the first place. It kills me that theres people like this in the world I live in. I never knew that our government allowed this to happen to animals. The worst part is, my dog Max got lost a year ago. He was a lil on the dumbdumb side, but I loved him. I wonder if someone found him and stole him, and it hurts to even think that. Watching things like this, reading about things like this that go on in the world I live in, makes me sick to my stomach. Theres so many twisted people in this world. CC was a minister at a funkin church, for christs sake. I think people need to watch this, and act on it. It’s definitely a downer, but you cant turn your head from shit like this. Do you want to make a difference? Do you want this to stop? I know im gonna do something about it. I just dont know what yet.

    I definitely cried during this. CC Baird should get shot in the head for being a fucking idiot.

  • G-force

    I could only get through about 20 min of this show before I was so depressed and enraged. I could not believe these things and wanted to go in there with a shotgun of my own and rain death on every guilty party there.

  • Jeanne

    Just caught this at night, but could not find it in the HBO schedule or on demand for my spouse to see. Without a doubt, the most horrific evidence of man’s inhumanity to animals I’ve ever seen.

    Have always been against wasteful animal research given what I learned years back post pneumonia from the CIPRO package wherein a hundred beagles were suspended for months as test subjects then killed when they finished using them because they could no longer walk. Have asked for drugs fine print ever since and complained to Pharma units about pointless tests which waste animals and tell nothing about efficacy for humans.

    Years ago I urged the used of discarded placentas and core blood vice living animals who are used for show vice real science, disgusting. I went to buy this CD from HBO because I vote with my money, costly,
    but worth it that others may see what becomes of companion animals deemed disposable by humans not fit to be alive. Well done, Nevins et al. Go get the rotters who hate living things so much.

  • Hi,
    It is a late review but stumbled onto this, so I had to leave a comment. I watch this documentary when it aired on HBO, and it was so horrifying to see the way these dogs were treated, my mom told me to turn it off, but I couldn’t as I had to find what was to happen in the end. I must tell you it was very emotionally moving for me as I love dogs and have a sweet all white shepard-pit mix and she is so sweet! I balled like a baby as well!!! So I give a great review to show what goes on behind these animal kenels but it is such a emotional movie to watch, so be worned, you will be moved especially if you are a dog person!

  • giselle

    we can do something about it!!!and we must !!!

  • LabLover

    I made the mistake of watching Dealing Dogs and could not sleep last night. The graphic images were horrifying and all I could think of was that the ranch these dogs were “imprisoned” in was comparable to the death camps during WWII. I laid awake for a very long time with my hand on my sleeping black Lab and couldn’t imagine what he would feel like if he were suddenly taken from my home and forced to live in conditions these dogs in the documentary were living in. It broke my heart to see this and even moreso when the undercover rescuer had the opportunity to save the black Cocker Spaniel and allowed it to be killed right in front of him…
    While I understand he had to protect his identity and himself, he had a chance to make a difference however small…I am certain he will regret his choice the rest of his life…
    I recommend watching this documentary, but trust me…it’s not easy and the images will haunt you for a long time to come…

  • Paula

    I haven’t yet watched the movie, and not sure I could, but am so glad someone had the courage to go through what was most certainly beyond heartbreaking to bring this to the publics’ attention. I belong to a puppymill awareness group and am amazed at how many people have no idea.

  • Booth Bender

    This hard to watch but monumentally important film has haunted me since I saw it some years ago. Animal based “research” is a CENTURY OLD FRAUD AGAINST MANKIND…. JUNK SCIENCE FOR HUGE PROFITS meaniningless because of the undisputed scientific principle of SPECIES VARIATION which has determined absolutely that animal data is invalid/even DANGEROUS when applied to the understanding or quests for cures of homo-sapien illness!People have died taking FDA approved medicine deemed safe based on animal studies/tolerances. That C.C.Baird is a church minister,his atrocities and the film as a whole has caused this once devout Presbyterian to question the exsistance of God.