SEARCHDOG is the story of Matthew Zarrella, a Rhode Island State Police Sergeant who rehabilitates “unadoptable" shelter dogs and transforms them into Search & Rescue/Recovery Dogs. We come to know Matthew and his dogs and witness extraordinary moments over four and a half years of real-time searches as he trains troopers and their new canine partners to find missing persons.
As a child, Matt Zarrella found solace and confidence in his relationships with dogs. As a teenager, he cared for shelter dogs knowing they were going to be put down. As an adult, he used that confidence and a sense of duty to help those in need, to succeed as a police officer and ultimately as an internationally-renowned K-9 Search and Rescue/Recovery specialist. We come to understand Matthew’s motivation to help others and his empathic, methods of searching for missing persons with his dogs.
Ultimately, SEARCHDOG chronicles transformative connections between humans and dogs where the consequences of “trusting a dog” can mean life or death for a missing victim, others where the goal is to provide answers and closure for decades-old tragedies. With passion and surprising humor – SEARCHDOG reveals rich, productive relationships in which both species learn to trust each other, and rely on each other, in performing their crucial tasks. More about the film here.
Best of the Fest - 2016 Palm Springs International Film Festival
Best Documentary 2016 Ellensburg Film Festival
Audience Award 2016 Boston Film Festival
Special Jury Prize 2016 Jefferson State Flixx Festival
"A film for dog and doc-lovers alike." - Christopher Llewllyn Reed, Hammer to Nail
"SEARCHDOG is a unique, wonderfully gritty, fascinating documentary that immerses the viewer in the arduous and rewarding work of training dogs to use their fine noses to help find the missing and the dead.
SEARCHDOG never romanticizes or exaggerates dogs’ abilities, and left me feeling more convinced than ever that our co-evolution with dogs was one of the best things we humans ever did." - Cat Warren, author of What the Dog Knows: Scent, Science and the Amazing Ways Dogs Perceive the World
Director/Producer: Mary Healey Jamiel
Executive Producer: Elaine Rogers
Cinematographer: Ken WIllinger
Editor: Mike Majoros Music: Tim Maurice
2016, USA, 90 min, in English