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‘Break the Chain’ PETA film spotlights transgender animal-rights activist

The PETA documentary “Breaking the Chain” is a behind-the-scenes look at neglected “backyard” dogs and the people who dedicate their lives to helping them.

Many of the dogs are chained or penned 24/7 and don’t have sufficient food, fresh water, veterinary care, and shelter.

“Break the Chain” highlights the efforts of transgender animal-rights activist Jes Cochran and the rest of PETA’s field workers in Virginia and North Carolina, who respond to help calls around the clock and in every weather condition.

Oscar winner Anjelica Huston executive produced “Breaking the Chain.”

“It’s one thing to hear about the animal neglect and overpopulation crisis,” Huston said in a statement, “and another to see for yourself how dogs are left to shiver, pant, limp, and suffer in backyards, where they’re confined to wire cages or chained to pieces of junk.

“Seeing is believing,” Huston said, “and I want people everywhere to see the individual dogs who would suffer or even die on a chain if PETA weren’t there to help.”

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Cochran’s longtime colleague and supervisor Daphna Nachminovitch has worked with them more than 15 years.

“Their commitment to animal rights goes above and beyond philosophy. Since the young age of 19, Jes has been not only an advocate, but also a warrior for animals,” Nachminovitch said in an email. “Jes brings passion, integrity and dedication to everything they do to make the world a kinder place.”

Break the Chain PETA film

Jes Cochran rescues a cattle dog in Texas that was abandoned and trapped in a flooded back yard during Hurricane Harvey in August 2017. Photo: Jes Cochran.

For example, Nachminovitch, senior vice president of PETA’s cruelty investigations, listed some of Cochran’s animal rights activism:

  • Rescuing starved and terrified animals left behind after Hurricane Katrina
  • Going undercover to expose the torture of pigs in military training exercises
  • Directing operations at a large-scale rescue of more than 16,000 animals at a California breeding mill, the largest rescue in U.S. history
  • Heading PETA’s disaster response teams after Hurricanes Harvey, Florence and Maria.

In the aftermath of hurricanes Florence, Harvey, and Maria, Cochran waded through waist-deep water to rescue dogs trapped on countertops and roofs and bring them to safety.

Breaking the Chain” is available on-demand at Amazon, iTunes, AppleTV, Google Play, Vudu, and Vimeo.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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