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Can “The Secret Life Of Pets” Speak to Terrible Pet Owners?



The Secret Life of Pets is a new 3D animated comedy film that hit the theaters on July 8, 2016. The story revolves around a group of pets that live with their owner, Katie, in Manhattan, New York. It is a happy bunch consisting of a terrier (Max), tabby cat (Chloe), dachshund (Buddy), pug (Mel), and a budgerigar (Sweet Pea). Max starts feeling insecure when their owner brings home a new Newfoundland, Duke, from a pound — he gets the feeling that Katie is giving Duke more time and attention, which he is finding difficult to digest. A rivalry ensues and their lives take a turn for the worst.

Duke is not happy with the welcome Max gave him in the new house — Max giving him a cold shoulder in the new home does not go down well with him. He takes Max far away from the house to teach him a lesson; however, they are soon attacked by a group of cats, who take off their collars. They manage to escape them, but then fall into the laps of Animal Control. This is when the leader of ‘The Flushed Rabbits,’ Snowball, saves them. The gang is completely against humans, because all of its members have been mistreated or left to rot by their owners. Max and Duke convince Snowball that they have suffered the same fate and manage to get protection from the gang.

After going through many ups and downs and with a ton of help from their friends, Max and Duke get back home safely. Snowball also finds a forever home, while the rest of the gang returns to the sewers.

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For most, this may be a light hearted comedy with two dogs fighting back to come back home, but this story also communicates a lot of things to pet owners who have been terrible to their pets. This movie has given a voice to those, whom bad pet owners do not want to hear.

First, there is the story of Duke: he was adopted from the pound because he got lost. He found a new home, but has not been able to forgive or forget his former owner. He loved him dearly, but this owner never came looking for him, which naturally left him angry. However, as the movie progresses, it is shown that Duke’s owner actually died and was not a bad pet parent; what this story does try to communicate is that pets are not just hungry for food or want their belly scratched. They also consider their owners as part of their small family and they are irreplaceable in their lives. Katie is by no means a bad owner, but Duke does miss his old buddy, because he was not someone that just fed him: he was Duke’s family. So, even though Duke found a new cozy and comfortable home, he still missed his old owner.

There is also a whole group of animals that called themselves ‘The Flushed Rabbits.’ It is just heartbreaking to see the animals think that they were treated terribly by their owners, to have been completely forgotten like that.

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Snowball, the leader of this group, is portrayed as a villain at first – he despises the human race. They have been abandoned by the very people they loved the most and it is only fair that they are angry. They only know humans as oppressors, and the people who treated them badly and left them to die in the back alley of a big bad city. All they ever wanted was love and they were denied that. However, towards the end of the movie, when a little girl sees Snowball, she finds him absolutely adorable and starts cuddling him. He is reluctant at first, but eventually gives in to the pampering of the girl. He drops his big plan of annihilating the human race and becomes the fluffy and cute pet to that beautiful child. This was truly a heartwarming moment that showcased that all Snowball ever wanted was a little love and care. The moment he got that, there was no hatred in his heart.

The Secret Life of Pets subtly brings these very familiar scenes to terrible pet owners. The movie offers a mirror to bad pet owners by offering a voice to the neglected group of lives – their pets. It helps them realize that pets are not toys that can be simply tossed away, but loving souls who need love and care. To see when Secret Life of Pets will air in your area, subscribe to a Comcast plan and visit the guide!

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