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Libby Sherrill, Executive Producer, 'Beyond The Myth,'
a Film About Pit Bulls and Breed Discrimination

By Rose Kennedy
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beyond the Myth: A Film about Pit Bulls and Breed Discrimination
  • When: Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Bijou Theatre, 803 S. Gay St., Knoxville
  • Cost: $12 - $55
  • Age limit: 13+
Full event details ┬╗

Libby Sherrill first decided to tackle a film about pit bulls as a grad student at the University of Tennessee. Three years later, her theme has been honed to reveal the perils of breed-specific legislation as carried out in three cities that ban pit bull-type dogs: Denver, Miami, and Cincinnati’along with San Francisco, which requires the animals to be spayed and neutered. Although she wasn’t a pit bull owner herself when the film project began, Sherrill is now. She took a break from producing one last segment for the Sept. 3 screening of Beyond the Myth at the Bijou Theatre to talk about her creative journey.

What’s the film about?

Beyond the Myth explores the contributing factors behind the public’s generalized fear of pit bulls, and examines the conflict between advocates and opponents of breed-specific legislation in four cities. BSL has nothing to do with an owner or dog’s behavior, it’s based entirely on physical characteristics.

Some of the stories you filmed about people having long-time family pets confiscated are very sad. Did you end up feeling any sympathy for the other side, the ones advocating BSL?

No. I’m being honest. I started out with a less biased approach; my aim was to give people on both sides a chance to defend their positions. But as I got further into it, I myself could see no merit in BSL. It doesn’t decrease the number of dangerous dogs in communities, and it doesn’t stop irresponsible people from having dogs and it doesn’t stop dog attacks. Whenever you ban a particular breed, it does nothing to change the behavior of people who are in fact responsible for creating dangerous dogs through training and inhumane treatment. They can always get another dog or another breed.

Can you give an example of a story that really touched you from the film?

Desiree and her dog Coco, who was taken from her backyard by Denver Animal Control. She never got Coco back. Denver enforces their ban more stringently than any place I visited, killing close to 4,000 pit bull-type dogs since 1989. A lot were strays, I’m sure, a lot were owner surrenders, but that also includes confiscations.