Controversial SD Dog Raid Lands On The Big Screen

'The Dog Lover' is based on the removal of 172 dogs from a Hurley man's home

A story that dominated headlines in South Dakota is now on the big screen and being shown in Sioux Falls.

‘The Dog Lover’ is based on the controversial raid and removal of 172 dogs from a Hurley man’s farm.

Now, seven years later, those involved on both sides of the raid are having to relive the experience.

“You don’t get it out of your mind, I think about it every day and it’s been nearly 7 years,” says Dan Christensen.

In September of 2009, authorities removed hunting dogs that Christensen bred on his Hurley farm.

“They took 172 registered, healthy dogs and gave them away and destroyed them and killed them,” he adds.

The raid was initiated through Second Chance Rescue Center, a non-profit organization that has since been closed.

“Most of the dogs had coccidia, they had giardia from the dirty conditions, the filthy water,” says Rosey Quinn, who at the time, was the director at the rescue center. “It was a very justifiable rescue.”

Some dogs died after the raid, others were placed into new homes.

Christensen’s animal cruelty charges have been dropped, and a lawsuit he filed ended with a settlement.

The case may be put to rest, but the story lives on. 

“It’s a movie; it’s not exactly what happened,” says Christensen.

Christensen says ‘The Dog Lover’ has changed parts of the story, including an intern filming the dogs and his character killing one of them.

But one part, the most important part to him, is accurate.

“How they came in with several people, it was unexpected, that was pretty much the way it happened,” explains Christensen.

While Quinn refuses to see the movie herself, “it kind of feels to me like he’s still continuing to make money off animals,” she says she’s happy with what happened in real life.

“I succeed in what I was set out to do in the first place, which was to get the dogs out of that environment, get them healthy again and get them into new homes ,” she says. “That’s exactly what happened.”

But Christensen’s story doesn’t end with a fairy tale.

“It was illegal, it was wrong,” says Christensen. “Within a month they wiped out 30 years of our work and ruined the animals.”

ESX Entertainment produced ‘The Dog Lover’.

But it was funded through an organization called Protect the Harvest, which was created to counter animals rights groups.

Their goal is to protect people’s right to hunt, fish, farm and own pets.

West Mall 7 will be showing the movie through next week.