April 25th, 2017 marked the 10th anniversary of the police raid on professional football star michael vick’s property where authorities found dozens of pitbull Dogs in horrific condition. The situation shocked animal lovers nationwide. People were beginning to become aware of the issue of illegal dogfighting and cruelty to animals. The dogs rescued from the property are now known as Vicktory dogs, named after the man responsible for their condition. The outcome for some of these animals led to rehabilitation and new, loving homes.

Decisions to save the Pitbull Vicktory dogs

At the time of the Michael Vick dog fighting raid, people throughout the USA and Canada were of the fallacy that Pitbull dogs are a permanently aggressive and dangerous animal, severely affecting any efforts to rescue and save them. Dogs confiscated from an illegal dog fighting ring at the time would immediately be euthanized. However, these Vicktory dogs had a better chance for adoption by going to foster homes and rescue groups for rehabilitation and evaluation. An organization dedicated to saving the life and reputation of the Pitbull, BAD RAP, worked alongside the ASPCA and three other independent animal behaviorists to develop a protocol for testing the dogs.

At the time, the Humane Society (HSUS) opposed these efforts. It was these remarkable Vicktory dogs that changed policies by the HSUS regarding treatment of former dog fighting animals. After attending a summit in 2009, it was agreed upon that all dogs be treated equal, as individuals with the chance to find love, care and attention of a permanent home and owner.

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Legacy of some of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick dog fighting ring

The animal advocates working on the Vick issue learned that all the 22 dogs rescued were capable of being evaluated and socialized. Lucas, who was Vick’s champion fighter, was covered in scars from fighting other animals but he had the biggest impact on changing the outcome of these rescued animals.

He turned out to be the sweetest, most affectionate dog, loving everyone he met. When evaluators assessed all the dogs taken from Vick’s property, they did not find any that were aggressive to people despite the situation. A few were dog aggressive, but most were anxious, shy and fearful of people because they have been unsocialized. Cherry was another dog that had a playful demeanor, especially when she met Handsome Dan. The two were able to play together, relax and be healthy dogs. Those working with the dogs believe that once a dog can get along with other dogs, chances to be adopted are improved.

Little Red was the most difficult dog to work with because of her fears. She hesitated to come out of her fun and would cower whenever caretakers would approach her.

After slowly spending time with her, getting her accustomed to loving human touch, she warmed up to people. All the dogs rescued never got a chance to play with toys, sleep on a comfortable bed, go for a leisurely walk, ever saw the sun or experience any of the joys of family life. The caretakers worked with each animal, at the dog’s own pace to help them become adoptable. Only two of the rescues, one named Meryl would spend the rest of their lives in a sanctuary, but the rest all find amazing homes. The adopters discovered that these dogs could recover, forgive and provide their humans with immeasurable love. These dogs now get to go on with their lives but forever with the lingering effects of the abuse, while Vick went on to play another year of professional football. The Vicktory dog’s resiliency, joy, and strength is incredible and are considered heroes after such a tragic ordeal.