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WHERE would we be without man’s best friend? For the homeless, that question is even more acute — their canine companion will often be the most important thing in their life.
The sight of a homeless person accompanied by a dog is a familiar one on Britain’s streets and now acclaimed film-maker Paul Sng, along with musician and radio presenter Simone Marie, are planning to explore the phenomenon in a new documentary Dogs on the Streets.
A crowdfunding campaign has just been launched to fund the project on Kickstarter, with filming scheduled to commence in September, followed by a cinema release.
The film follows Marie as she meets homeless dog owners and their animals in London and other cities and it focuses on the help and support they receive from DOTS (Dogs on the Streets), a volunteer-run charity dedicated to the welfare of dogs belonging to the homeless community.
“With this documentary we want to challenge the stigmatisation and demonisation of homeless people and to show the reality of homelessness from the perspective of people who experience it,” says Sng.
“The DOTS team provide vital support for homeless people and the dogs who bring comfort and security to their owners. I hope this film will help to make more people aware of their brilliant work.”
Following the stories of several homeless dog owners and their pets, the film explores the bond between them to reveal how dogs have helped people through difficult times. And it shows the work of DOTS volunteers who provide veterinary care, food and basic supplies and assistance with helping homeless people and their dogs with getting off the streets for good.
“These are good people,” says Michelle Clark, who runs DOTS. “They had lives just like ours. When things went south and their circumstances saw them take to the streets, their dog was often all they had left in the world.
“And often it’s because they have a dog that they’re sleeping rough. While homeless people can sleep in shelters, almost all accommodation options won’t take in people who have a dog. If you see someone on the streets with a dog, they may have chosen to stay with their pet over getting a roof over their heads.
“Nobody wants to be homeless. But those who are, are among the kindest, most gentle people. Their dogs keep the light shining in their hearts — the least I can do is help them to help their companions.”
By using direct testimony to challenge public perception and show that homelessness is created by economic forces, the film also questions the general understanding of how homeless people are seen — or unseen — by society.
Details of the Kickstarter campaign are available here.
For further information on DOTS, visit dogsonthestreets.org.
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