Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent
“Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent” (GTPI) is the documentary film that examines laws called breed specific legislation (BSL), which restrict or prohibit ownership of certain types of dogs – namely “pit bull” dogs, using Ohio as the backdrop.
In 1987, in an attempt to modernize and update the state’s dangerous and vicious dog ordinance Ohio State Representative, Bob Hickey proposed a bill originally breed neutral. The bill was later amended by Ohio Senator, Neal Zimmers, to single out “Pit Bull” dogs specifically as inherently vicious. It passed and was signed into law by Ohio Governor, Dick Celeste, in July of that same year.
Over the course of the next 25 years, there were several attempts to repeal the law, but Ohio remained the only state legally allowed to discriminate towards the ownership of one type of dog. The film takes an intimate look at the truth behind these laws and the effect they have on local communities, following Lakewood (a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio) as city council proposes and eventually passes a ban on “pit bulls,” citing the state law as one of their primary reasons.
At conclusion, the viewer will be able to answer the important question the film asks:
“Do we have a dangerous dog breed problem, or dangerous laws targeting dogs?”
The “Rescue Version” of the documentary film premiered in Cleveland, Ohio on April 28, 2013. It went on to have 20-some screenings around the U.S. – including two official film festival selections (2013 St. Louis International Film Festival, 2014 Kansas City Film Fest), as well as supported by national animal welfare organization, Best Friends Animal Society, who sent copies of that version to legislators faced with this issue.
The official (re)release of Guilty ‘Til Proven Innocent is expected to be announced in Spring 2017.
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