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Pooch people vs. the dogless: Vancouver filmmaker digs into canine conflict zones

On one side, we have people who truly think of their dogs as family, and cannot abide the oppression that comes with those pesky municipal bylaws. On the other are the residents who have grown tired of the unscooped poop and inattentive, entitled latte-sipping dog owners.

If they're man's best friend, why all the flying fur?

Across North America, pooch people have become pitted against the dogless in a battle over off-leash areas and other pet peeves. On one side, we have people who truly think of their dogs as family, and cannot abide the oppression that comes with those pesky municipal bylaws. On the other are the residents who have grown tired of the unscooped poop and inattentive, entitled latte-sipping dog owners.

Intrigued by all the strife, Vancouver-based filmmaker Helen Slinger set out to document canine conflict zones. In a Los Angeles suburb, a frustrated citizen posts security camera shots of dog owners oblivious to – or deliberately ignoring – freshly produced turds. On a California beach, an environmentalist urges owners to leash their dogs for the sake of migrating shore birds. (One muttered response: "Get a life.") Outside New York, a proposed ban on human burial at pet cemeteries causes distress.

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"I came here when I knew Snow was going to die and I said I couldn't just dispose of him; he was my life, he was my child," says one woman of her dear departed Snowball.

In New Hampshire, a housing complex manager forces residents to provide DNA samples from their dogs before they move in, so if unclaimed poop is found on the property, she can send it off to the lab and identify the offending canine. (PooPrints Canada, based in Calgary, offers a similar service.)

With some 84 million dogs in North America, maybe the dog-fights are inevitable. For the record, the dogs all seem fine. The humans, however, may need some remedial training. You can decide for yourself Thursday night when Slinger's Dog Dazed airs on CBC TV's Doc Zone Thursday at (9 p.m.; 9:30 NT).

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About the Author
Western Arts Correspondent

Marsha Lederman is the Western Arts Correspondent for The Globe and Mail, based in Vancouver. She covers the film and television industry, visual art, literature, music, theatre, dance, cultural policy, and other related areas. More

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