Animal Inventory Blog

Keeping track of animals in popular culture.

Archive for August, 2008

Animal Inventory … TV!

Posted by lisagbrown on August 23, 2008

It’s amazing to think that a year has gone by since Animal Inventory was born. (Click here to read the very first entry, Welcome to Animal Inventory, from August 5, 2007). I hope that I’ve lived up to my original goal with this blog, as stated in that very first entry: “to pay attention to animals … in advertising, packaging, movies, books, TV and many other mediums … figure out who they are, why they exist, and what they reveal about how we see their living counterparts.”

The best way I can think of to celebrate this milestone is to announce the launch of a new, exciting feature on Animal Inventory. I’m very proud to announce the forthcoming:

Animal Inventory TV

Animal Inventory TV is an in depth look at the valuable bond between humans and other animals — enduring relationships that bridge the species divide. Each episode profiles an animal and his or her person, and tells the story of a friendship that is both astonishingly unique, and utterly universal.

Episodes of Animal Inventory TV* will begin airing this September 2008, and can be found here on the Animal Inventory blog, on the Animal Inventory TV website, and on our Youtube channel.

*Animal Inventory TV is produced by Lisa Brown and Hannah Pillemer of YoshiMax Productions.

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Posted in Animals, Human-Animal Bond, Representations, Television | Leave a Comment »

Animal Planet’s Animal Witness: The Michael Vick Case

Posted by lisagbrown on August 13, 2008

On Sunday, August 24th at 10pm, Animal Planet will air Animal Witness: The Michael Vick case, a one hour, in-depth look at the Michael Vick dogfighting case (see teaser above). Animal Planet felt that Animal Inventory readers would be particularly interested in this show, so they sent me a screener copy and requested that I review it.

I’m thrilled that Animal Planet decided to do a comprehensive show about this case. It seems to have grabbed the attention of the general public in a way that few animal cases do. It is rare that animal issues become a nation-wide concern, so this particular case became an opportunity — not just to save the 50 odd dogs in Vick’s care, and not just to prevent this dogfighting ring from acquiring more dogs. This was an opportunity to educate our entire country — a nation captivated — about the prevalence and violence of dogfighting.

Animal Witness: The Michael Vick Case is a compelling, sensitive and brutal look at the lives that fighting dogs lead. The show pulls very few punches in depicting the extraordinarily graphic and upsetting nature of the ‘sport.’ (For this reason, the show has multiple disclaimers that content may not be suitable for children.) For context, the show gives a brief history of the pit bull in America, a wonderful reminder that, not too long ago, pit bulls were considered an all-American kind of dog. (They include footage of vintage TV shows to prove their point — Petey from The Little Rascals was a pit bull.) Now, pit bulls are often considered the most dangerous dogs in America, and pit bull bans are in effect in multiple cities around the U.S.

The show could almost be divided into two halves, with each half hour depicting the most astonishing aspects of this case. The first half of the show highlights the violence and horror of this barbaric ‘sport’ that Michael Vick participated in. The second half of the show highlights the ability of these abused, neglected, tortured dogs to forgive humans, and be rehabilitated as loving, joyful members of various households across the U.S. Animal Planet excels at telling rags-to-riches stories in which animals who come from hardship beat the odds and end up happier than anyone could have hoped, and this show is no exception. The fortitude of these dogs (and the commitment of those who rescue them) is nothing short of astounding.

Animal Planet has a lot of ground to cover in one short hour, and they do a great job of telling this story. The show is not perfect, and there are some noticeable parts of the tale that are left unspoken. There may be cultural reasons why people who are otherwise law-abiding citizens believe it is okay to torture and kill these dogs for sport, an important consideration when educating the public, and one which this show doesn’t really address. Aside from the many gruesome images in this show, one thing that haunted me was a shot of an activist holding a sign that read “Castrate Michael Vick.” This could not help but bring to mind America’s long and terrible history of lynchings and political violence against the African-American community, and the image highlighted the absence of a discussion of race. The mutually informing elements of racism and American anti-pit bull sentiment would have lent a more dynamic and deeper understanding of this particular case, why the media took such an interest, and how the well-being of people and animals are inextricably linked.

That being said, this show does a remarkable job of summarizing the events that led to Michael Vick’s arrest, the realities of dogfighting, and the unexpected rehabilitation of the dogs. One of the things that is wonderful about this show is that it now becomes a part of the dialogue about the case, an integrated element of America’s history with dogfighting and a great stride towards eliminating this ‘sport’ from our communities.

I highly recommend that you watch this show. It is an education. It is a vindication of justice. Quite simply, it is an essential contribution to the fight on behalf of fighting dogs.

For more information about Animal Witness: The Michael Vick Case, visit the show’s website or participate in the show’s chat forum.

For additional reviews and discussion of this show, visit:

For an informative representation of dogfighting and the culture surrounding it, I recommend the fictional film Amores Perros by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu.

Photo: Michael Vick and a pit bull. Courtesy of Animal Planet.

Posted in Animal Welfare, Animals, Dogs, Ethics, Human-Animal Bond, Public Policy, Television | Leave a Comment »

Beautification is for the Birds

Posted by lisagbrown on August 12, 2008

At a San Diego park, local artists created whimsical birdhouses intended to beautify the neighborhood  — and house feathered friends. Urban Art Trail, the organization behind the project, describes the effort as, “an outdoor bird park designed to house birds displaced by downtown development. Upscale bird residences were created under strict regulations by wildlife experts to ensure the health and safety of specific downtown birds.”

The birdhouses were built with appropriate ventilation and proper sizing for nesting boxes, and the park features plants for the birds to feed on. Check out a write up and additional pictures on the Chronicle Books blog by one of the birdhouse’s designers, Amy Ennis Achaibou.

Photo and birdhouse, “Air Traffic Control” by Amy Ennis Achaibou

Posted in Animal Welfare, Animals, Art, Birds, Public Policy | Leave a Comment »

A Good Day for Gorillas?

Posted by lisagbrown on August 7, 2008

A new population of lowland gorillas was found recently — about 125,000 of them — in a remote area of the Congo. Until this discovery, researchers believed there were only about 50,000 of the species, worldwide. While this is fantastic news for the survival of gorillas, it raises concerns about how to protect the animals’ status as an endangered species. This new development does not change the severity of the threats that gorillas face, including poachers, deforestation, and disease.

View CNN’s story at More than 100,000 rare Gorillas found in Congo.

Posted in Animal Welfare, Animals, Primates, Public Policy | Leave a Comment »