Now one of the most famous dog movies ever produced, 101 Dalmatians amazed and delighted audiences shocked to experience the real thing 35 years after Walt Disney released the animated movie.
Pongo and Perdita think they have it made with their human guardians and new litter of fifteen puppies until the diabolical Cruella de Vil (Glenn Close) brings trouble to paradise. She has the puppies stolen, along with dozens of others from across Britain, to have a Dalmatian skin coat made. With the humans at a loss to solve the crime and rescue the pups, it’s up to the dogs, and large cast of other animals, to save the day.
101 Dalmatians, based on Dodie Smith’s delightful children’s novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians, later helped raise public awareness about impulse buying a dog. Months after the film’s release, animal shelters and rescue groups across America and beyond were flooded with young Dalmatians purchased from puppy mills and irresponsible breeders struggling to meet demand. With their humans comparing the superbly trained dogs in the film to their own new pet chewing up the rug and tracking in mud, many of these puppies were soon unwanted.
Today, some movies, such as Beverly Hills Chihuahua (2008), carry disclaimers at the end urging people not to buy a dog because they see it in a film, while trainers and animal welfare groups work hard to educate the public and make tragedies like the 101 Dalmatians aftermath a thing of the past.
It should be noted that every puppy actually appearing in the film already had a forever home assured by their breeders before the trainers, headed by Gary Gero of Birds and Animals Unlimited, borrowed them for production. (No animals were bred specifically for the production.)
Produced by Walt Disney