The 51 pit bulls confiscated from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels in 2007 were back in the news this past Sunday, but this time, not for illegal dog fighting. Pit bull Jonny Rotten was featured on the cover of the Sunday, August 15, 2010, edition of the Joplin Globe Parade magazine.
Writer Jim Gorant followed up on what became of the pit bull dogs removed from Michael Vick’s property when he was charged with promoting dog fighting in 2007. His new book, The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption will be available on book shelves on September 16, 2010.
Fifty-one pit bulls were seized in 2007 from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennel located in Smithfield, Va. The dogs were originally quarantined as evidence against Vick in the dog fighting charges and most people assumed, rightly so, that the dogs would be destroyed. However, in an unprecedented judgment, the Courts instead ordered Vick to provide $1 million for rehabilitation and rescue of as many of the dogs as possible.
A group of animal trainers and behavioral specialists were assembled by the ASPCA to work with the dogs and evaluate whether or not they could be moved into family environments. Two of the dogs had to be destroyed in the end. The one would not let go of his fighting roots and the other sustained injuries that created irreparable injury.
The specialists found that remaining dogs were either happy and poorly socialized or timid and poorly socialized. The dogs that demonstrated relatively happy behaviors and a willingness to integrate into a family were immediately put into a structured program that developed their social skills.
Jonny, the cover story, was one of the happy but poorly socialized dogs. He has been adopted by a family in California and was able to pass his therapy dog test. He is now part of a program that helps kids develop their reading skills by reading to a dog.
Another one of Vick’s dogs, Hector, is a certified therapy dog and works with the sick and elderly. His coat still bears the scars of his fighting career, but his patients don’t seem to mind.
And, Audie, who needed surgery on his knees, has been adopted by a northern California family and is now training to enter his first canine agility competition in early 2011.
In 2007, citizens across the world were shocked and saddened at the news of the raid at Bad Newz Kennels and that Michael Vick, a favored quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, was behind this abhorring and cruel activity. At the time, everyone assumed that for the better good of society, it would be best to destroy 51 animals that had been exploited and purposely put in harms’ way.
If it wasn’t for the wisdom of one judge, and the large bank account of the guilty, these dogs may have been destroyed. The Michael Vick story has taught many of us that you cannot judge a single animal by looking at the entire population.
While many of the dogs are still undergoing rehabilitation and others are deemed unadoptable, the successes that have been made through rehabilitation argues the need to provide alternatives to euthanizing pit bull and pit bull mixes that are surrendered or found on the street.
The Animal Adoption and Resource Center in Joplin will commonly have a pit bull or pit bull mixes available for adoption.
Jim Gorant’s new book, The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption will be published next month by Gotham and available at Books A Million on Range Line Road in Joplin.
You can learn more about Vick’s dogs that were adopted and rehabilitated at Parade.com/vick.
Would you adopt a rehabilitated pit bull? Join the conversation at Parade.com/dog.
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