Career woman and mayoral candidate Caroline Sheppard (Amanda Langille) is determined to find her family's stolen dog, Dinah. Given a lead by an animal welfare activist, Caroline risks her safety and reputation and alienates her family as she searches for Dinah in the underground hell of puppy breeding mills and research laboratories. But when she confronts a brutal dog-fighting ring her courage inspires her family to reunite and help her rescue their pet. 

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We Aren’t Selling Toothpaste

Published on June 29, 2012 by in Blog

June 29, 2012

We Aren’t Selling Toothpaste

Carolyn and Mayor Robb are in All-Candidates Debate mode, swinging accusations and comebacks, like Tony Fernandez (Toronto Blue Jays) swung a bat.  After Carolyn’s third base run at the mayor about the lack of Whitby’s stature in the province and its lack of government funding, the mayor retorts:  “You can’t sell a city like tooth paste.”

Carolyn doesn’t miss a beat.  She replies: “My honorable opponent just figured out we’re not selling toothpaste.”

One small piece of the dialogue.  One giant leap for me.  The words have been crafted by screenwriters Barbara Kyle and Stephen Best.  I have read them numerous times with every incarnation of the script.  Yet this is the first time I have stopped to think what those words really mean.

Of course, Animal Alliance and the Whitby Courthouse Theatre aren’t selling a consumer product or the merits of the city, though the beauty of Whitby’s downtown core speaks for itself.  What we’re selling is the power of community and how divergent communities can band together to create something more powerful and meaningful than they could alone.  But we are also selling or actually promoting a new way of thinking about the animals in our lives and the hostile world outside our homes that surrounds them.

I’ve come upon the notion among the families I know who live with companion animals that their animals are safe.  They believe they provide the love and care that shield their four-legged family members from harm.  Little do they know that such is far from the case.   One doggy escape from a fenced in yard, one nip at the fingers of an irksome child, and their dog is thrust into a world that most families could never imagine from the safety of their living room sofas.

Breed specific legislation and the Animals for Research Act threaten all of our beloved canines, as do the dog brokers who abduct our family members and sell them to research labs or dog fighting rings. Many of them never return to the waiting arms of their family.

The film asks many challenging questions, questions worth asking: How far will we go to protect our furry loved ones?  Where is the line we draw between our human and animal companions?  How do we think of animals and why do we think the way we do?  And most importantly what will we do to change our own thinking and then our behaviours to make safe the world in which our companion animals live?

Then there is one final question I’d like to ask the families I know who live with dogs: Do we continue to luxuriate in the mistaken belief that peril can’t befall our dogs?  Or do we face reality and acknowledge that it certainly could?

This is what we’re selling. Community and the need for change in the way we protect our animals.

For more information on what you can do to protect our animals and the world we all live in, visit:

And remember, you can make a difference one change at a time.  The time to start is now!

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On Location at the Whitby Courthouse Theatre: Day 5

Published on June 28, 2012 by in Blog

June 28, 2012

On Location at the Whitby Courthouse Theatre

It’s 12:30 p.m. and I’m here at the Whitby Courthouse Theatre.  It’s Day 5 of shooting and my first day on set.  I won’t spend a lot of time bemoaning the fact that it took me three hours to get here — all the way from the other side of Toronto.  All I will say is that my driving knee is going into spasms.  But enough of that.

We — or I should say the cast and crew — are filming Scene 39: the Whitby Mayoral All-Candidates Debate. I’m just sitting in the audience, snapping a few stills (that’s film talk for photographs) and finding out what I missed on the previous four days.

Stephen, our director, is ready to film the All Candidates Debate scene. Our set designer, Roland, has shown he’s worth every penny we pay him, or every penny we should be paying him because he’s working for our ever enduring gratitude and that’s about it.  The spitting image of Buddy Holly, Roland has, like a magician, taken the few crumbs we can afford and turned them into apple pie.

On stage, against a black backdrop, are three podiums, one for each of the three candidates.  For a later scene, he’s wrangled two white contempo chairs and an ornate white table for our Jenny Rose Talk Show Scene — and an entire police office — from the set of Flashpoint.  It turns out Flashpoint is a goldmine of props and costumes and is being filmed in Toronto.  Thank you Flashpoint! (Hope you don’t miss the police outfits.) And thank you Roland!  (Roland is a long-time Animal Alliance supporter and a vegan!  What more could you ask for?)  (More on Roland later)

As I lean back in my red velvet theatre chair, Stephen is squinting into the camera and discussing the shot with our cameraman, Reese.   It just so happens that Reese’s passion for theatre inspired the creation of the Courthouse Theatre.  Reese’s father was Mayor of Whitby — can you believe it!   Mayor Marcel Brunelle built the theatre,  a glass enclosed addition to the building, because he recognized, thanks to Reese, how vital a stage is for a community.  Today the theatre is the heart and soul of the courthouse and, I might add, of the City of Whitby as well.  And for the first time ever, the show the Courthouse Theatre is hosting isn’t a theatrical but a full-length feature film — our film, Saving Dinah.

I could go on and on, but it looks like Stephen’s getting ready to shoot the scene.  So I better sign off and sit back and enjoy the show.  “Quiet on the set.  Sound! Camera!  Action!” Take One!

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