‘Isle of Dogs’ Gets Right What ‘A Dog’s Purpose’ and ‘Crazy Alien’ Got So Horribly Wrong

Published by Katherine Sullivan.

Isle of Dogs hits theaters today, and we must admit that it’s a must-see. Directed by Wes Anderson, the heartwarming film was made using stop motion—an animation technique that brings objects on screen to life—instead of live animals. The movie is set 20 years in the future, when all companion canines have been exiled to a garbage-filled isle called Trash Island. Twelve-year-old Atari Kobayashi ventures there in search of his dog, Spots.

Anyone who loves and appreciates animals—companions or otherwise—will fall in love with this movie, too.

And don’t even get us started on the cast. Tilda Swinton voices a character named Oracle, but Isle of Dogs isn’t the first animal-centric film that she’s been involved in. Last year, she starred in Okja, an action-adventure movie that shows the horrors of animal agriculture through the eyes of a young girl and her “super pig.” In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Swinton discussed the film, saying:

“[A]s anybody knows who lives with animals, they teach you more about what it is to be a good human than most people: patience, goodheartedness, enthusiasm, presence, forgiveness, focus, restfulness, honesty.”

In a recent PETA campaign, Liev Schreiber—who supplies the voice for Spots—urged everyone to save lives by adopting companion animals.

“The good folks at PETA and I encourage you to find your own perfect match and save a life (or two!) by adopting,” said Schreiber.

Yoko Ono, Anjelica Huston, and other celebs who lent their talents to Isle of Dogs have also encouraged people to treat animals with kindness.


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But the plot and cast aren’t the only reasons we love the film. Instead of forcing real dogs to perform on cue, Anderson and his team used stop-motion animation to bring each character to life.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Last year, shocking video footage taken on the set of A Dog’s Purpose showed an animal handler forcing a terrified German shepherd–type dog into fast-moving waters:

According to a facility manager, the infamous Birds & Animals Unlimited (BAU) supplied the dogs used in that movie.

More recently—just last week, in fact—PETA released deeply disturbing whistleblower video footage from the set of the upcoming film Crazy Alien, which appears to show a young German shepherd locked inside a cage, suspended 20 feet in the air by a crane, spun around by the crew, and then plunged into a frigid, fast-flowing river.

Such abuse is the norm, not the exception, in the entertainment industry, where animal suffering is “business as usual” for humans trying to make a buck. Just take a look at this eyewitness footage captured inside BAU, which has rented out animals to hundreds of productions, including The Hangover, Marley & Me, Game of Thrones, and Pirates of the Caribbean:

Films like Isle of Dogs prove that there’s no reason to use live animals when animation, stop motion, blue-screen techniques, computer-generated imagery, and other advanced technology can produce realistic substitutes. PETA applauds the team behind Isle of Dogs for its cruelty-free approach and encourages moviegoers everywhere to check out the new film.

For Some Dogs, a Trash Island–Like Existence Is All Too Real

In Isle of Dogs, the canines banished to Trash Island fight over “maggot-infested scraps” while they dream of the days of warm baths, comfy beds, and guardians who love them. As fictitious as this seems, millions of homeless dogs live in heartbreakingly similar conditions. There’s no doubt that Kobayashi is Spots’ hero, and you can be a hero for dogs, too. As Schreiber said, “Animal shelters across the country are flooded with dogs .… It’s hard knowing that so many are still waiting for their forever home.” We hope anyone who’s prepared to add a dog to the family after seeing this flick will follow in his footsteps and visit a local shelter to adopt.

Click the button below for more information about animal homelessness, and remember: Never breed or buy. Always adopt, and always spay and neuter.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind