Pit Bulls Unleashed

2017, Society  -   40 Comments
Storyline

Are pit bulls a predatory menace or merely the most misunderstood breed of dogs? Pit Bulls Unleashed explores this polarizing issue with impassioned figures on both sides of the debate.

The film's narrative piggybacks off an unspeakable tragedy. A young woman adopts two pit bulls and raises them as her household pets with no incidents of disobedience. Then, without warning, the dogs maul her as she holds a 14-month old baby. They tear the child from her arms and proceed to devour and kill it.

Is there something bred into pit bulls that makes them prone to violence? When a horrific mauling or death occurs, advocates of the breed work quickly to exercise their significant lobbying power. Violent outbursts are only isolated incidents, they argue, and many are hyped by the media to inspire false hysteria. In their view, there are unstable dogs in every breed just as there are in the human race. To promote their cause, these advocacy groups mount appealing and persuasive advertising campaigns to brand pit bulls as the ideal family-friendly pet. They've been successful in halting state bans of the breed.

Statistics may tell a different story. According to one researcher interviewed in the film, pit bulls are responsible for a majority of dog attacks against children and other pets. Graphic post-attack photos and parent testimonials provide further evidence of this.

An animal shelter whistleblower speaks of dishonest tactics employed by the industry. In some cases, aggressive pit bulls might be shipped to different states and have all recorded offenses against humans erased from their paper trail.

There are also figures in the debate who advocate for a compromise of sorts. They argue that many of these mauling incidents arise from irresponsible ownership, and propose a licensing system much like the process consumers must go through when purchasing a gun.

Are proposed bans of pit bulls a form of canine racism or a logical step towards ensuring human safety? This is the contentious question that dominates the film.

Produced by The Fifth Estate, Pit Bulls Unleashed challenges the viewer by admirably zig-zagging between opposing viewpoints.

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Ratings: 7.49/10from 35 users.

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40 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Cbpizon

    I am not sure why anyone owns this type of dog. There's a reason why most shelters have 5 times as many of this type than any other breed. People can't handle them and no one wants to adopt them. So rescues pull these dogs out that their original owner didn't want and rehome them? That's insane. I don't care why this dog tends to bite more or do more damage. They don't need doggies shrinks, they need to not exist. Make it illegal to breed them with a huge fine and get a poodle.

  2. Vavoom

    As most documentaries, this is rather one-sided. I feel the same as the commenter Heidi. The doc leaves many questions unanswered; such as why do they attack? Where are the case studies that indicate 'why'. Some are random, some are provoked, some are due to neglect, and so on. Without understanding the reason why, we cannot begin to fix the problems. Giving a blanket solution, such as breed specific bans, is not the answer.

    That being said, the doc did give me some food for thought. The one volunteer trying to re-home a a pit bull to a family "pit bulls make the best family dog, I always recommend them". I believe that is ignorance. The reason this bothers me so much is that most of these shelter dogs largely have no history, as mentioned in the documentary. I had never thought about that much before. The documentary made a very good point in this. Aside from just never knowing when an animal may get aggressive, previous events can be an indicator. Completely ignoring this and offering a dog to a family is ignorant.
    I do own pit bull cross dogs. They are sweet, never aggressive, but that does not mean I would ever trust them around children. That goes for any dog. Pit bulls, along with other larger breeds, just do more damage. This is responsible ownership. Any dog, animal, can turn at any time. Who knows what the trigger may be.
    This documentary would have been more well rounded had it included actual experts on both sides.

  3. Heidi

    This documentary includes no interviews or studies from actual dog behaviourists or scientists. A plastic surgeon, a vet tech and some people from different organisations are apparently "good enough" for The Fifth Estate. Alrighty then. Everything is addressed in an annoyingly superficial way; Just tell, tell, tell and avoid explaining anything properly. For example, there's talk about bans, restrictions and laws but we're never told what these bans/restrictions/laws would be exactly. Why? Not juicy enough? We also have civilians on both sides, commenting on dog behaviour, as if they were experts. Are any of these people trained in the field? Do they understand the basic calming signals of dogs? Why isn't there an actual dog behaviourist addressing these issues as well? Am I supposed to believe that they couldn't find any properly educated specialists within the whole United States of America? Way too many "whys" here for my taste. I'm not a bloody robot, I understand and appreciate the emotions on both sides. However this documentary relies too heavily on emotion and personal experiences and not nearly enough on properly explained, well conducted research and well based facts. Didn't convince me one way or another. Instead of watching this, I suggest you go out for a walk and ask random strangers about their opinions and experiences concerning pit bulls. You'll pretty much get the same level of expertise, but as a bonus you'll also get some fresh air... and possibly some opinions about a rapper.

    My brain hurts...

  4. Mike

    Pits should be outlawed. Yes, any dog can bite but not many have the ability to kill so efficiently. Huge penalties for the owners.

  5. AnnG

    My final comment as I have finished the film. I personally would not buy or rescue a pit bull because I think a person that does is taking a great risk until someone finds out the reason pit bulls and all dogs attack. Please don' t have them around infants or children.

  6. AnnG

    I see children treating dogs of all breeds in inappropriate ways. Sitting on them, pulling their body parts, kicking them. Does anyone have knowledge of what is happening the instant before they attack. As I said in a previos post, maybe any dog can be set off by certain activities, noise, or treatment.

  7. AnnG

    ..and what about that syndrome or science about people who "lose their mind" because of an unfound virus or something wrong in their brain as portrayed in "Brain on Fire". Could this be something to look into?

  8. Ann G

    Has anyone studied whether the certain pitch or tone of a child crying or yelling could set them off?

  9. Carl

    I'm not sure I buy the story of the woman who claims to have had that poor child ripped from her arms. No tears during the retelling of her ordeal. No pictures of the bite marks on her arms while she fended off the dogs as they supposedly ripped the baby from her arms. I don't doubt for a minute that the dogs attacked the child. But I doubt that baby was ripped from her arms.

    1. AnnG

      Good ?

  10. Mark Gaboury

    The dad whose kid was killed by the beasts: "the owner did nothing wrong." She owned pitbulls! and you thought she'd made a good babysitter! You didn't know that pitbulls need bullets whispered into their brains?! And you still don't know it?! Please don't have any more kids.

  11. dog lover_really

    I have had two negative encounters with pit bulls. The first one was a friends dog who was several years old and had never shown any aggression other than barking in the yard at strangers approaching the house. One day during a family get together, the dog owner walked into the family room and the dog jumped on a 2 year old and bit her badly in the face. The dog had been around all these people many times. It just reacted and reacted badly.
    The other incident happened when I was walking my dog along a side walk. A pit came running up from a sunken yard and broke through the fence trying to attack my dog. My dog was only 28 pounds so I pulled him up and over my head. The dog continually jumped up on me trying to get the dog and bit my calf. There was no provocation.
    I am for banning them. My home insurance does not insure this breed and it is a well known national company.
    In the town I live in, a 4 year old was mauled and killed by her family dog that she had been around since birth. This dog did not show aggressive behavior prior to this.
    These dogs are unpredictable and must be banned. They are aggressive by nature and built for destruction.
    As for the really rude comments I have read here in this post, you are out of control yourself.
    There is a general psychosis about dogs these days. They are not your "Children" they are animals. They are not human and should not be fantasized as such. These dogs have been shown to be dangerous . I agree that people are losing their grip on reality when they can no longer see the value of a child's life in comparison to a dogs. These are animals, that are Do you need your child or your person to be injured before you wake up?

  12. Manuel

    Subjected to moments of nervous tension particularly in closed flats, they're dangerous and can attack and kill, that's why here in my own town of Porto (Portugal) a baby was killed in a flat.

    1. BallsRog

      No. Any dog can be aggressive or tamed to perfection. Anyone who thinks otherwise is ignorant of facts. Especially if you are not a trainer or studied on the topic. The fact that so many believe things as fact, with no actual evidence to support them( beside circumstantial at best) is something I'd put at second only to greed on a list of humanities biggest inherent problems. You people need to understand, as some who who's worked with dogs I can tell you that most people have no idea how to train and handle their dog. Some breeds are harder to train than others, sure, but any can be. It's sad to see so many ignorant comment here, but I can't say it's surprising with the state of the world like it is.

  13. John smith

    hhmm 29 minutes into the video Having cookies in your hand and saying these dogs are safe around people doesn't really fit.Look at the dogs carefully..as long as they think they are getting fed then all is ok,Prove it my making them upset or angry or denying food and see what happens, then I'll believe they are safe.

  14. Chris

    hi i am 55 years old and a first time dog owner ..i hired a person to find me a pure breed pit bull..i got her at 7 weeks old this dog is exceptional smart powefull loyal and now she is one year old..i permote theese dogs for single owners not as family pets..never hit your pit bull you will regret it..pit bulls need one one love training and trust..i love. really love my pure breed pit bull..

  15. Tom O

    The final statement by the former Pitbull owner whose dogs attacked and killed a 14-month-old child is the bottom line: how can you discern which Pitbull is aggressive and which is not. That risk alone de-legitimizes all the skewed, fervent arguments for allowing this breed to exist. Unfortunately, like gun control, this is such a polarizing issue and the loudest voices wagging the dog are those of the advocates for a cause that yields both potential and statistically verified violence. Why does freedom so often get attached to my right to do what I want at your risk.

    1. Silv

      How can you tell which non-pitbull dog is going to attack and which isn't?

      There's no doubt that pits have attacked people. What this documentary (and the people advocating pit bull bans within it) do not consider is how frequent these attacks are compared with other dogs, and why.

      You can't just go by anecdotes and conclude that pits are dangerous overall. I could do the same with humans, pointing out all kinds of humans that have attacked and killed others. Without a basis of comparison, they're just anecdotes. There are an estimated 3-5 million pit bulls in the US, and in 2017, 40 people in the US were killed by pit bulls. If we say there are 4 million pit bulls, 40 deaths per year represent one in a hundred thousand-- or less than one fifth as the US murder rate. Any random person you meet on the street is five times more likely to kill you than any random pit bull.

      We live in a society where "if it it bleeds, it leads." Pit bulls get people fired up, and people being fired up is money to them. If a dog even somewhat resembles a pit, that's how it is reported, and it's reported a lot more. An attack from any other dog is local news, but a pit attack is national news.

      Right now, anyone who wants "street cred" by dog ownership wants a pit. Anyone who wants to illegally fight dogs wants a pit. These people are the ones we least want to have any dog, and they seek out pits. That kind of adverse selection doesn't exist for other breeds, but it used to. Before pits, it was Rottweilers, and before that, Dobermans, and before that, German Shepherds. Each one was the pit bull of its day, and if you check dog bite stats, you will find each of them overrepresented compared to the overall breed prevalence for that time period.

      The thing the doctor said about "if it saves just one life" is nonsense. You could apply the same logic to nearly everything! Ban swimming pools, cars, stairs, ladders, baseball bats, motorcycles, kitchen cutlery, any household cleaners or chemicals... just about everything presents a greater threat than pit bulls. We could easily save "just one life" many times over by banning... well, everything.

  16. Dakota

    Why not look at the owners of these dogs. Pitbulls are good dogs just like any other breed, it only takes one bad owner who makes these dogs dangerous. Dalmatian breed are much worse the temperament are very much unpredictable. There are Shepards that are not friendly and I should know, I was attacked by Shepards and people that have told me their stories about German Shepherds biting them.....why only look at one breed when other breeds are much more dangerous....look at the owners and their home first!!! I have a pitbull/boxer mix and she loves people and other dogs no matter the size. It's not falr to the responsible pitty owners or the breed.

  17. Bob Cameron

    In my mind these dogs are like firearms. In and of themselves they may inflict no harm BUT with the wrong owner or neglect they can cause untold grief. The owners of these dogs should be held to a higher degree of legal responsibility for their dog's actions, and should have to prove ongoing public liability insurance. If I accidentally shoot someone I am responsible not the gun.

    1. Tom O

      Bob, in the video we are led to believe that the two pitbulls that killed the 14-month-old were propertly trained and treated with affection. It is the randomness of pitbull aggression that makes the argument for eradicating the breed. There is an endless plethora of dogs in this world so no one who wanted a dog would be deprived.

  18. Trudie

    I am a owner of a pitbull and I am really sorry for what happened to this woman but I can say my pitbull is like my own child she is a very plasit and loving dog she protects my granddaughter and I fully support pitbulls again we as pitbull owners have to stress how the dog is brought up by the owners

  19. Sabrina Bimbolino

    As an advocate for Breed Specific Legislation I have been involved with victims of severe and fatal dog attacks since 2012. I fully understand the dangers that this (these) lethal dog breeds present. Unfortunately those who haven’t had the experience of facing a man eater will either continue to doubt and enjoy their dog that luckily has had their DNA culled, experience an attack and join our advocacy or lose their lives. It’s that dramatic a difference between good and bad bloodlines. Ignorance or denial of the issue only continues to get people and pets killed. If you are a victim of these dogs you can find us on Facebook at the National Victims of Canine Attacks Support Network and shoot us an email. Please understand that due to increased numbers of rescued malignant dogs and transported rescue pits that numbers of victims are increasing. We will get back with you within three days. If you live in Texas and want to be part of the statewide movement for BSL please contact us at The Texas Coalition for Dogbite Law Reform.
    These dogs will continue to attack until they’re stopped. Be part of stopping them. God Bless the victims.

    1. BallsRog

      No. And ignorance that makes the world even less logical and worse place should not be taken likely.

      Is every rescue dog going to be safe? Absolutely not

      Can I raise any dog from a pup that isn't brain damaged, and have him be completely safe and friendly? Absolutely

      This lady is dangerous, and I'd suggest everyone to do what you can to discredit and not support her ridiculous campaign. If it was simply to help attack victims then that would be great, but she clearly is trying to ban breeds based on her own ignorance.
      People like this are a detriment to freedom, but that goes to show you the inherent flaw in the system. No law should ever be made, based on anything but facts and science, regardless of how many people are for it.

      This is the type of ignorance that kept black people oppressed for centuries. Though admittedly not nearly as bad as that, this is the attitude that is dangerous for society, freedom and the earth itself.

    2. Jay Evans

      Everybodys got an opinion i was once attacked by a yorkie shall we ban all of those to? A few humans kill other humans so do we all die? Its moronic owners either dont know what there doing or play rough with the dogs then when they cant handle it thats the problem.... us as humans... and as for god bless really if god were real there wouldn't be any dog attacks anyway would there....just my opinion though and youve already got your far superior opinion so ill just be quiet

  20. Sanders

    Its past time victims of pits get noticed and the pit lobby gets exposed. Thank you for sharing!! Keep up the good work!

  21. Kurt

    Living in America can some times make you scratch your head, only america,, an I'm a veteran, this said it's the same old B.s., do we exterminate people, an ban them for doing crimes against are fellow man, mostly no, not the way we do dogs, for everything that happens, it happens for a reason, like it or not, example, I have a 90 pound shepard/cow mix, I've had this dog for a long time, an it's never took a bit out of anything, but at times I'll let my dog walk without the lease, yet people will become terrified at times, so I'll tell them this dog won't shoot you, Rob you, or rape you, but the next Peron you come across could, my point is, 95 % of the times all dogs are loving an well behaved, now I can't say that about people, first, let's deal with all these nuts we deal with daily, then come back to this dog issue, or should I say non-issue

  22. LEH50

    Ban these unstable, dangerous dogs! There have been too many "unreported" pit bull attacks on people and children. They should not be pets - they are aggressive when unleashed or loose - growling and bearing their teeth. We've all seen it. "They were good dogs...yet she says they attacked her and tore a kid's face off".

  23. vcragain

    Wow - what a powerful story - I have always been really wary of these dogs, but mainly because they LOOK DANGEROUS - they have very heavy built bodies & jaws & a way of staring at you with menace - that would be enough for me ! Something is wrong with their psyche - maybe what they were bred to do in the first place ? It looks as if it's not easy to know what actually will set them off - nobody appears to know !
    I think they should be gradually got rid of - by sterilizing them all. That's the kindest way to do it, no actual killing, but disallowing breeding of this dog. You know something is very wrong when they have to become deceitful to get them adopted, and for anyone that believes in no-kill of any life - how many are too many of anything - humans, dogs, cats, mice, fleas ??? There IS a point at which you too will object to the numbers !!!

    1. Kev

      I have a pitbull, and yes she looks menacing, and yes she has a very strong body, and jaws that can crush bones in a second. My nephew, niece and all their friends play with her all the time. She is the most gentle beast I have ever had the privilege to own, and I have owned several types of dogs in my life. Yes she gaurds my house, and doesn't like strangers at first, but she has never attacked nor has she ever gotten aggressive with anyone. She is as patient as she is loving.

    2. Obee124

      Yes, most of the horrific incidents you see are from pitts (even though 'pittbulls' are actually several different breeds). Little known fact, you are more likely to actually be attacked by a chihuahua. Also, chihuahuas are responsible for way more hospital visits by bitting and tearing at the face and neck.

      So I get it, when bigger dogs go nuts it's a bigger deal, but a I choose pitts because of their love and loyalty. Got 2 am-staff mixes and wouldn't trade them for anything.

    3. Kevin

      Pit bulls like any other animal have personality. And like everything esle in this world there are good examples and bad. U cant just blanket an entire bred because of what some do. All breds of dog have potential to be dangerous and from my experience once your dog has a big head its labeled as a pit bull. Pitbulls by the bred are not supposed to be human aggressive as they always look for human gratifcation. It sometimes is the way they are raised which causes these dogs to behave in such a manner and poor irresponsible ownership of the HUMANS who the animal calls master.

    4. Eleanor Cartwright

      Your comments are pathetic should we do the same withchild molesters rapists theres more of them then aggressive dogs grow up

    5. J

      I think you should be Sterilized. Everyone commenting here pretend to know dogs. ALL dogs stem from wild breeds. It’s the owners who should be blamed, any dogs can be violent. Pit bulls just happen to be the breed that most evil people wants because of their looks and build. I have been attacked by the smallest dogs ever and never a pit bull.

    6. BallsRog

      @ Obee124 it makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Most people that get a
      chihuahua, or many small dogs, should not own a dog. They refuse to train or discipline them in any way. I've known many to let them just crap in the house. Of course they're going to be aggressive unless at least socialised tremendously. And the same goes for pits. Many people who get them should not own a dog and actively try to make them more protective or aggressive.

      You'd think this stuff should be common sense. I feel like the people spouting nonsense, have little to no experience with dogs, or they own a lab or something that would most likely never be aggressive unless beaten for long periods of it's life. CERTAINLY none are trainers or have over studied the topic

      Boy, I tell ya. If there turns out to be a god(s), first thing I'd ask would be why make so many people unable to grasp even the concept of logic? Or on the other side of things, what evolutionary benefit is there to believing things without any proof?

  24. Don Duncan

    The solution, no matter the problem, is personal choice. No problem has a "one size fits all" solution, e.g., force one opinion on everyone by coercive laws. Let freedom reign! Live & let live! I know this goes against the worldwide use of violence inflicted on all by laws. Note: Laws contradict from country to country and time to time in the same country. City, county, state, and national laws contradict each other. This is social/civic chaos. Isn't the govt. touted to us as a "necessary evil"? We are told to pay and obey or be fined, imprisoned, or killed. Why? To avoid social chaos! So we do, and we have social chaos.

    1. Mark A LaJoie

      Don Duncan: "Isn't the govt. touted to us as a "necessary evil"? We are told to pay and obey or be fined, imprisoned, or killed. Why? To avoid social chaos! So we do, and we have social chaos."

      We have some disorder. You obviously haven't seen real social chaos.

      The "Pit Bull" was bred to be aggressive, to fight in a pit. It is not a "live & let live" breed. It should be eradicated.

    2. Mac Guy

      Less chaos without pit bulls. Here in SCal it seems that several times a year there is a news report about someone getting mauled by a pit bull or two. I don't want to be the next innocent victim getting attacked just walking down the street. What about you?

    3. BallsRog

      Mark, I'm guessing you've completed animal psychology courses, or are at least certified as a trainer. Because if you do anything else you're opinion pretty much means nothing, and you should have no say in any decisions.

      Let's all reflect on how much better the world would be, if before you voted on anything you had to show at least a basic understanding of the topic or issues.

  25. Sheryll

    Humans should not have to live in fear of a dog. Licenseingblike a gun is a partial solution. Does this help when a pitbull turns on you and mails you to death?