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Mutual Rescue Film Festival Awards
Mutual Rescue Film Festival Awards
Mutual Rescue Film Festival Awards
Mutual Rescue Film Festival Awards

Judges • Call for Mutual Rescue Stories 2017

We will be adding to our judges panel, so check back soon to see the final roster!


Dr. Marty Becker

“America’s Veterinarian” has spent his life working toward better health for pets and the people who love them. In recent years, his realization that it’s impossible to provide for pets’ physical well-being without equal focus on their emotional well-being led him to found the Fear FreeTM initiative. He brought together veterinary behaviorists and dozens of other experts and leaders in the field to develop an educational program to train veterinarians, trainers, animal shelters, and more in easing the fear and anxiety of their patients and clients. Dr. Becker was also the resident veterinary contributor on “Good Morning America” for 17 years and is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the American Humane Association. He lives in Northern Idaho with his wife and their many rescued dogs, barn cats, and horses.


Bolt and Keel, brothers and adventure cats – with human assistants Kayleen VanderRee and Danielle Gumbley

Their Mutual Rescue story: We found Bolt and Keel as one-month-old kittens in a bush behind a trash can at a local park. As we both lead busy lives, we planned on bringing them to a shelter on our way home, but it was closed by the time we got there. So with two kittens in tow, we had no choice but to bring them along on our already planned multi-day backpacking and canoeing trip.

A week after finding Bolt and Keel, Danielle tore two ligaments in her ankle leaving her debilitated. Unable to work, her summer plans of rock climbing and hiking turned into recovery on the couch. Patiently waiting for their next adventure, Bolt and Keel snuggled up to Danielle as she turned to the Ellen Show for much-needed inspiration as she rested her ankle. The kittens continually comforted her and kept her company, as she felt lost without being able to do what she loved. At the beginning of the summer, two homeless kittens were the last things we thought we needed, but by the end of the summer, we knew that we weren’t just the ones who were rescued. Bolt and Keel now regularly join us on our hiking, camping, and canoeing.

Bolt and Keel | Instagram | Facebook


Karen Mullarkey

Former Director of Photography for Rolling Stone, New York magazine, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated, Karen Mullarkey produced and directed television documentaries and has been involved in editing and producing more than 75 photography books.


Nala Cat – With human assistant Varisiri Methachittiphan

The story of one kitten, Nala, starts off at a home where the owners could no longer take care of the cats and kittens because there were too many. Nala was then taken away to the shelter where she was separated from her original family. Sadly, we don’t know what happened to the rest of the cats or kittens, but when adopted, Nala was the only one left.

Of course Nala wasn’t Nala then, but an unknown kitten in the shelter, at only five to six months old. On a random day, my friend and I were planning on adopting a cat, but weren’t going to right away because we weren’t prepared. After looking around for awhile, my friend found another cat that she wanted to adopt, and I had just picked Nala up for the first time. She licked my face and knew she was the one that we were going to take home.

Because of Nala I have a job to support my family and I am able to help animal shelters to save more lives and spread the words about adoption. Because of Nala I got to meet a lot of awesome people and some of them became my good friends. Nala is everything to me. She thought me how to love unconditionally. I have learned many new things because of her.

Nala Cat | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube


Rescue Pets of Instagram – Pandy the cat with human assistant Tisha Haney

Their Mutual Rescue story: My husband and I woke up on my 31st birthday, and I said “Let’s go look at the adoptable cats this morning. I’m not saying we have to adopt one because it’s my birthday… I just want to look!!” We got to the adoption event and there were several rows of cages stacked on each other. One cage at the end of the table had a litter of tiny kittens. A woman from the rescue group stepped forward and asked if we were interested in adopting a kitten. We both said “No, we’re just looking!” I then asked if I could just hold one of the kittens, and was given permission from the volunteer. I opened the cage and grabbed an adorable kitten who was sitting at the front. She was precious. Right then a young couple approached and said “I’m sorry, we’ve just adopted that kitten.” I handed her over, and sighed. When I turned back to the cage of kittens, to shut the door, I noticed the most gorgeous, fluffy kitten curled in a ball in the very back corner. I hadn’t seen her at first glance. She literally took my breath away. I reached in and grabbed the tiny ball of floof and held her to my chest. My heart was beating so fast. It was love at first cuddle. I looked at my husband with wide eyes, and he said “Let me hold her…” It took only a minute (both of us quietly staring at this ball of love), and he said “You’d better start filling out the paperwork!!!” I’m so glad that other couple stepped forward and adopted that first girl, because I never would’ve seen our perfect tiny girl at the back of the cage. I’ve said it more times than I can count, but Pandy’s $95 adoption fee is the best money we’ve ever spent.

In the 5+ years that we’ve had Pandy, she has brightened every single day. Not one day has gone by that she hasn’t made us laugh. She knows exactly what we need when we’re sad, stressed, anxious, worried, etc. She will jump on our laps and purr away our negative emotions. She exudes love and gratitude from every bit of her tiny, less-than-8-pound body! We’re still stumped at how much love can fit in such a tiny package. Before we adopted her, Pandy’s littermates were all found abandoned and taken to a local kill shelter. They were all put on the kill list. Thankfully a local cat rescue organization pulled the entire litter off the kill list, and helped them find homes. When I heard her backstory, I was shocked to find out that even healthy, young, highly adoptable kittens are euthanized daily in some shelters across the U.S. I vowed to always choose adoption, and to help as many shelter animals as I could during my lifetime. Pandy inspired me to start @RescuePetsOfInstagram, an Instagram account where I share successful adoption stories, and encourage everybody to adopt! The account grows each day, and more and more people are exposed to pet adoption. It thrills me to show the world the type of amazing animals that are at shelters, just waiting for a second chance. Pandy has rescued me, many times over. And thanks to her, shelter cats and pound puppies across the world are getting exposure on social media, and proving to us all that adoption is always the best option!

Rescue Pets of Instagram

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Last Year’s Judges for Mutual Rescue Stories 2016

After a series of individual and group reviews of the submissions, 50 final contenders were evaluated by our judges from coast to coast. Learn more about the panel of judges that reviewed and selected the current Mutual Rescue films.

Dr. Marty Becker

Popular veterinary contributor to ABC’s Good Morning America, resident veterinarian on The Dr. Oz Show, and co-author of Chicken Soup for the Pet-Lover’s Soul.

Tom Corwin

Award winning music producer, recording artist and book author. His recording credits include Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Wonder, and Kris Kristofferson.

Ethan Goldman

Partner and Head of Development at Warrior Poets, a New York based production company founded by Academy Award © nominated filmmaker Morgan Spurlock.

Maggie Lawson

American actress best known for her role as Detective Juliet “Jules” O’Hara in the TV show Psych, current co-star in Angels from Hell, and co-founder of The Tiger Frances Foundation, a nonprofit focused on eliminating animal abuse.

Joshua McGuire

A UK actor on stage, TV, and film, he has performed in the movies About Time, Cinderella, and Mr. Turner. On TV, he performed in the hit series The Hour on BBC America and Scrotal Recall on Netflix.

Jude McVay

Enlightened entrepreneur and co-founder of The Tiger Frances Foundation, a nonprofit focused on eliminating animal abuse.

Doug Menuez

Award-winning documentary photographer featured in the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, Life, People, USA Today, and Fortune magazine.

Karen Mullarkey

Former Director of Photography for Rolling Stone, New York magazine, Newsweek, and Sports Illustrated, produced and directed television documentaries, and has been involved in editing and producing more than 75 photography books.

Amy Shojai

Nationally known authority on pet care & behavior, author of 30 pet books & thousands of articles & columns, expert on Animal Planet & the spokesperson for the pet products industry. She founded and is president emeritus of the Cat Writers’ Association.

Phoebe Smolan

16-year-old animal-rights activist and animal-rescue volunteer. She has appeared on the Martha Stewart Show, conducted a Time for Kids interview, and was the youngest international press corps photographer for Fashion Week in New York City.

Rick Smolan

CEO of Against All Odds Productions and New York Times bestselling author, best known as co-creator of the “Day in the Life” book series.

Gina Spadafori

Reporter, syndicated columnist and top-selling book author including the first three books in the “For Dummies” pet-care line. In 2007, she was one of a small group of journalists credited with breaking open the pet-food recall story.

Morgan Spurlock

Writer, director and producer whose first film, Super Size Me, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2004 and garnered an Academy Award © nomination for best feature documentary.

Tracey Stewart

Author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Do Unto Animals: A Friendly Guide to How Animals Live and How We Can Help Make Their Lives Better and the editor-in-chief of the website Moomah, which provides parents and kids with fun, easy, and effective ways to contribute to varying kinds of nonprofits.

Mark Ulriksen

San Francisco-based artist and illustrator, best known for his magazine covers of The New Yorker with more than 50 covers to his credit. He is the author and illustrator of the picture book, Dogs Rule Nonchalantly.

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