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.