Monday, March 11, 2013

Beyond the Myth (2011)

Number Rolled: 50
Movie Name/Year: Beyond the Myth (2011)
Genre: Documentary
Length: 94 minutes
Rating: NR
Director: Libby Sherrill
Writer: Libby Sherrill
Actors: N/A

As a movie, this documentary was spectacular. It was a powerful look at breed bias against Pit Bulls. The movie took a significant stance on one side of the argument, and showed the audience why that side was superior to the alternate. To back up their argument they used a significant amount of verified facts and first person interviews.

It was spectacular.

As for the topic, I have something to say.

In this documentary, people who were interviewed told their tales about what it was like for their dog to be confiscated after the passing of breed-banning laws. I don’t like to leave my dog, Honeybear, at the groomers for an hour, let alone a shelter for days or weeks, only to be euthanized at the end of her stay. If someone tried to take her from me, there would be hell to pay. No one’s coming for her though. She’s a Pomeranian/Sheltie mix. Those are not the breeds people are after.

I remember the day I met Honeybear. I’d lost my first dog a little while before, to health issues, and was miserable. I missed having my fuzz therapy roaming around the house. I found that I sink into a deep depression without having a dog by my side. A friend of mine who worked at a shelter knew this. He called me up and said, “We have this dog here that no one wants. She’s been here for months, she’s easily aggressive and she plays rough. We’re not going to be able to adopt her out. Why don’t you come by and take a look.”

I stayed up the whole night and went to the shelter first thing in the morning, before it even opened. When my friend finally got there, he paraded out this medium-sized dog that had most of its weight in hair. All of that hair was matted around her so that she almost looked like a smaller, darker, English sheepdog. She was skittish and when I went to pet her, she bit me. I knew pretty quickly that he was right. No one was going to adopt that dog. So I did.

She was terrified of scissors, so I spent the next three days taking eight hour shifts with a nail clipper, slowly, carefully, cutting off all those uncomfortable mats. I taught her how to trust and feel safe and, low-and-behold, she doesn’t bite anymore.

What does this have to do with Pit Bulls?

First, she was an “unadoptable” dog. A biter. It turned out all she needed was a dedicated and loving caretaker who could teach her that she didn’t need to bite.

Second, she’s not a Pit Bull but, look at that, she was a biter. All dogs can be mistreated in to biting.

Dogs are like children. There are all kinds of different breeds. Just like we come in all different flavors (Caucasian, African American, Mandarin, Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, etc.) so do dogs (Pit Bulls, Shelties, Rottweilers, German Shephards, Pugs, English Bulldogs, etc.). Saying that one specific breed is “bad” is like saying one specific human race is.

I was once punched in the face by a Chinese man. Should I now hate all Chinese men? Will they all punch me in the face? My first dog was attacked by a Rottweiler. Are all Rottweiler’s bad now? Will they all attack? No, of course not. Those ideas, the ones that say all are something because one is, are stereotypical and racist.

A domesticated dog is only as good as it has been trained to be. I’ve met roughly twenty Pit Bulls in my life. Do you know how many I’ve been bit by? None. I’ve been nearly licked to death or killed by bad breath, but I’ve never been bitten by a Pit Bull. In fact, of all my friends that have owned Pit Bulls or been close to those that do? None of them have been bitten either. I’m not saying that there are no Pit Bulls that bite. That’s about as stupid a thought as saying all of them do. I’m saying that no race can be judged in that general of a manner. Every person, every dog, every living being, needs to be judged on themselves. Nothing else.

I’ve always maintained this belief. What this movie did was remind me that there is a war going on. People are making heavy sacrifices of creatures they love, creatures that are part of their family, in order to try and get the law to understand basic rights. A war vet with a Pit Bull service dog, should not be forced to give up that dog. A good family with a well trained Pit Bull, should not have that dog torn from their home and put to death.

Think about it; creatures being taken from their home, completely on the basis of their race, and killed. Does it sound familiar? I’ve got to tell you, I’m Jewish and that sounds REALLY familiar. That sounds like something we can and have all agreed is wrong. So, why is it happening?

Fear is a very powerful motivator and Pit Bulls are strong-looking dogs. They’re easy to be afraid of if you have a closed mind and a small heart. They’re easy to be afraid of if you’re not willing to look past their appearance and their race.

Not all Hispanics steal. Not all Jewish people are cheap. Not all Caucasian people are racists. Not all Pit Bulls are vicious.

There is a war out there. One where innocent people – families of the innocent dogs affected – are suffering. The only person who can decide where you stand, is you. And while you’re thinking about it, I hope you’ll remember the words of Martin Niemoller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me--and there was no one left to speak for me.

Who will be left when someone takes the creature you love?

Overall Opinion – 5/5

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