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Published: Friday, 11/9/2012 - Updated: 1 year ago

Film chronicles journey to end breed-specific dog restrictions

BY TANYA IRWIN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Guilty Til Proven Innocent will be shown Nov. 18 at the Maumee Indoor Theatre. Guilty Til Proven Innocent will be shown Nov. 18 at the Maumee Indoor Theatre.
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“Pit bull”-type dogs are no longer automatically labeled as “dangerous,” compliments of a change in Ohio’s law earlier this year.

The long and hard road to abolishing the breed-specific law was documented by filmmaker Jeff Theman of Cleveland, who is screening his new documentary Guilty 'Til Proven Innocent as part of a Lucas County Pit Crew fund-raiser.

The film will be shown at 4 p.m., Nov. 18, at the Maumee Indoor Theater and will be preceded at 2 p.m. by a silent auction, refreshments, and a meet-and-greet time with the filmmaker.

Mr. Theman’s production company, Riverfire Films, spent the better part of two years shooting and editing footage for the film, an investigation of breed-specific legislation in his home state.

Mr. Theman’s inspiration for making the move is his dog Preston, rescued from an Ohio fighting ring by Cleveland’s For the Love of Pits organization. He interviewed numerous dog owners and experts, including Rep. Barbara Sears (R., Sylvania) and former Lucas County Commissioner Ben Konop.

Also interviewed for the film was Lucas County Pit Crew Executive Director Jean Keating. Although Ohio’s law is no longer automatically prejudicial against “pit bulls,” the dogs still face stigma and discrimination, Ms. Keating said.

“I’m hoping people walk away from [the film] with a better historical perspective about how the identified ‘demon dog’ has changed over the course of history,” she said. “Maybe now we are finally understanding it was never about the breed, but about people. Human beings have always been the real root cause of dangerous and vicious dogs.”

Others interviewed include former Blade reporter JC Reindl, who wrote numerous articles about “pit bulls"; author and animal advocate Jim Willis, and Stacey Coleman of Animal Farm Foundation.

Tickets to the screening are available only by advance purchase. The $15 ticket, which is in the form of a Lucas County Pit Crew wristband, can be purchased on the group's Web site at lucascountypitcrew.com or at any Pit Crew event. For more information, contact the group at canineadvocate1@yahoo.com. Mail checks for tickets to P.O. Box 351222, Toledo, 43635.

The use of the theater was donated by the Daryl and Jill Moreau family of Ottawa Hills, who adopted their dog Ruby from the Pit Crew.

Contact Tanya Irwin at: tirwin@theblade.com or 419-724-6066.



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