by Samantha Hogan

Animal welfare is one of the Lesniak Institute’s top priority causes. From banning the shark fin trade to stopping the cruel use of animals in circus performances, our advocacy efforts in NJ continue to make a lasting impact in the lives of innocent animals. Still, there is more work to do.  

Here’s a list of 5 animal welfare films that challenge the way we think about animals. Plus, 5 ways to take action!

Dog by Dog on Prime Video (Free with IMBDtv)

This documentary examines the inhumane treatment of animals in the puppy mill industry. Dog by Dog also demonstrates the cruel and profit-driven nature of the industry. Propelled by greed, the film exposes why puppy mills remain legal, and the corporate and political motives behind the industry.  

Action: Sign our petition to ban puppy mills in NJ and read more about banning puppy mills in NJ.Live and Let Live on Prime Video

Our relationship to animals and the farming industry is currently fueled by corporate greed and selfish agendas. Live and Let Live highlights the stories of six individuals who switched to veganism, including former butchers and factory farmers, as they reflect on the way humans have historically and inherently interacted with animals. 


Okja on Netflix

Okja is a story about a fictional creature and a young girl who must stop a powerful company from abducting this gentle giant for its own selfish agenda. The film will certainly have you questioning the dismal parallels to our own world, and examining the way we treat our own amazing creatures.  

Action: Let’s Ban Gestation Crates once and for all! This cruel confinement of mother pigs is still currently a common practice in the pork industry. Mother pigs spend their whole pregnancy trapped inside metal cages, so small they cannot take more than a step forward or backward. A similar practice is used for baby calves in the veal industry. Bill A5236/S3401 would put a stop to this inhumane practice, but your representatives NEED to hear from you! Contact the Assembly Speaker and Senate President here


Kangaroo: A Love-hate story on Prime Video 

Kangaroos are known as an icon of Australia, and yet each year 2 million of these creatures are shot and killed by commercial hunters. This documentary sheds light on the industry that was otherwise kept quiet. The film addresses the commercial killing of kangaroos from political, economic, scientific, and humanitarian angles. 

Action: Help us ban kangaroo products in NJ! Support the “Kangaroos Protection Act” bill, S3774 and urge the assembly to introduce the bill. Read more about “Kangaroos are not for Shoes.” 

octopus teacher

My Octopus Teacher on Netflix 

In My Octopus Teacher, a filmmaker builds an unusual friendship with an octopus in a South African kelp forest. This academy award winning film delves into the bonds between humans and other animal species. It highlights the emotions felt by animals, and the way we can often communicate across species if we take the time to understand each other.   

Action: Help give a voice to the voiceless by bringing the Courtroom Animal Advocacy Program to NJ! As living, breathing creatures who feel pain, animals deserve justice in cases of abuse and cruelty. This law will give prosecutors an additional resource to act on behalf of an animal and help these cases hold the full attention of the court. Contact your representatives, and let them know why this bill should be posted for a vote! 

After watching these films, don’t forget to spread the word and share your thoughts with family and friends.

Even the smallest acts that help bring awareness to important issues can make a big impact in advocacy. 

Seeing animals through a different lens helps build empathy and compassion for the creatures that we live amongst. 

So next time you’re clicking through Netflix, try something a little different. Watch a documentary that shares a new idea or explores a familiar one in a unique way, and let it fuel your desire to change the world for the better!