Villanova student film highlights bond between homeless youth, rescue dogs


A new documentary produced by eight Villanova University students who study social justice highlights the strong bond between people and animals.

The film, “Heel’d,” profiles a Philadelphia charity called Hand2Paw, which enlists local homeless kids to help care for and raise rescue dogs.

“They both often do have similar backgrounds in the sense that they have been abandoned or just rejected by people they trusted,” said Penny Ellison, the executive director of Hand2Paw.

The film, which has been making the rounds on the festival circuit, was named a Student Academy Awards finalist.

One of the student-directors on the project, Tom Smith, grew up in suburban Media and never had much city experience. But when he started commuting to St. Joe’s Prep in high school, he began to see a side of Philadelphia that kindled his interest in social justice.

“Taking the bus in there everyday [and] going through the neighborhoods, you realize how much society needs help,” said Smith, “and how much you can really give back just by doing little things.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

Together we can reach 100% of WHYY’s fiscal year goal