Tag Archives: Michael Vick

The Found Dogs – book review

For anyone interested in animal welfare, the story of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels is both sobering and encouraging.  Their rescue and the legal cases that followed were thoroughly documented in the New York Times bestseller, The Lost Dogs, by Jim Gorant.

The Found Dogs by Jim Gorant

In 2017, to mark the 10th anniversary of the bust which rescued the dogs, Gorant came back with this slim volume to update us on the stories of the dogs and people involved in the case.

Told simply and straightforwardly, the book opens on the property at 1915 Moonlight Road which is now the Good News Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.  In 2016, a ceremony at the property reunited many of the people involved in the case and the adopters with the dogs who had been saved.  51 dogwood trees were planted along with 51 plaques depicting the names of each of the dogs found at the property.  In some cases, the adopters were planting the trees for their dogs in memory, because by then many had already passed away.

Part II of the book is the longest part of the book; it’s an alphabetical list of each of the dogs by name and their story since being rescued.  Some are heartbreakingly short.   Other parts of the book update us on the key people involved in the bust and the legal case, and a discussion about what has changed in the last 10 years.

Much like the documentary film The Champions, the book couldn’t have been published too soon.  Many of the Vick dogs have passed, including cover girl Little Red whose story opened and closed The Champions.

Definitely worth reading and, if you are like me, adding to your ‘real’ dog book collection.  (I’m talking physical books, not Kindle files!)

And the last words go to Jim Gorant:  “As the dogs showed us – and continue to prove – accepting the state of things as they actually are and forging on in the face of those realities is the only way to make progress and create a new, better reality.”

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

The Champions

In my local community of Christchurch, New Zealand, I am sponsoring a community viewing of The Champions, a documentary by Darcy Dennett.  Proceeds will go to four local dog charities:  K9 Rescue and Rehoming, SPCA Canterbury, Dogwatch and Christchurch Bull Breed Rescue.

This film, which follows the story of some of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels, is a good news story.  It makes you think about recovery and a dog’s capacity to endure and survive.  Since I am very familiar with the work of the Best Friends Animal Society, it is also great to see the work done by them and BADRAP in San Francisco in finding these dogs homes.

I commend this film to you and encourage you to see it for yourselves.


Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

Previous posts relevant to the Vick case and dog fighting include:



Meet Jonny Justice

Jonny justiceJonny (left) is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier who was rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting operations.  In 2012, he received the most votes to win the prize of Most Beautiful Dog in the Top Dog Photo contest sponsored by soft toy manufacturer, Gund.

Through love, care and attention, Jonny was rehabilitated and now helps children who are learning to read.  The children read aloud to Jonny, who is attentive and always non-judgmental.

Jonny Justice reading

Jonny has been immortalized in a soft toy by Gund.  Measuring eight inches, you can buy Jonny for US$25.

The White House’s official position on breed specific legislation

Whoopee!  (or should I say ‘woof woof’).  This week the White House put out an official statement concerning its position on breed specific legislation.   And it’s great news…

“We don’t support breed-specific legislation — research shows that bans on certain types of dogs are largely ineffective and often a waste of public resources.

In 2000, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at twenty years of data about dog bites and human fatalities in the United States. They found that fatal attacks represent a very small proportion of dog bite injuries to people and that it’s virtually impossible to calculate bite rates for specific breeds.

The CDC also noted that the types of people who look to exploit dogs aren’t deterred by breed regulations — when their communities establish a ban, these people just seek out new, unregulated breeds. And the simple fact is that dogs of any breed can become dangerous when they’re intentionally or unintentionally raised to be aggressive.

For all those reasons, the CDC officially recommends against breed-specific legislation — which they call inappropriate. You can read more from them here.

As an alternative to breed-specific policies, the CDC recommends a community-based approach to prevent dog bites. And ultimately, we think that’s a much more promising way to build stronger communities of pets and pet owners.”

Ginger Girl is one of the ex-fighting Pit Bulls saved from Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennels and rehabilitated.  She lives in a loving home. Pit bulls are often the subject of breed specific legislation; yet they are very sweet dogs capable of much affection and devotion.

Ginger Girl is one of the ex-fighting Pit Bulls saved from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels and rehabilitated. She lives in a loving home.
Pit bulls are often the subject of breed specific legislation; yet they are very sweet dogs capable of much affection and devotion.

Dog fighting: the voiceless victims

Dog fighting is a crime and one where the victims (the dogs) have no voice.  Luckily, animal welfare agencies such as the ASPCA are involved in investigating and prosecuting cases.

Successful prosecution is not easy – it takes a lot of effort to investigate and raid dog fighting rings.   Increasingly, dogs who are rescued are assessed for behaviour and may be directed to welfare agencies for rehabilitation rather than immediate euthanasia.

These photos were taken at the dog fighting temporary exhibit sponsored by the ASPCA at the Crime Museum in Washington DC.  They give a small glimpse into the plight of dogs used for fighting…

The Victims

Scales such as these are used to weigh fighting dogs before they enter the ring

Scales such as these are used to weigh fighting dogs before they enter the ring


The investigation into Michael Vick's kennels was a turning point in many ways; for the first time there was an offender who had the finances to pay reparation that would support rehabilitation of fighting dogs.

The investigation into Michael Vick’s kennels was a turning point in many ways; for the first time there was an offender who had the finances to pay reparation that would support rehabilitation of fighting dogs.

American Dog Breeders Assoc


Michael Vick wants a dog (for his kids)

His 3-year ban on dog ownership is coming to an end and Michael Vick wants a dog, for his kids, he says.

Let’s not forget the dogs Mr Vick owned in the past – 13 dead, 51 seized from Bad Newz Kennels in 2007, with 47 ultimately surviving after being rehabilitated at places like Best Friends Animal Society (Best Friends took in 22).

Lucas and Mel are just two of the “Vicktory Dogs” seized from Michael Vick and placed with the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Photos by Gary Kalpakoff for Best Friends.

Read more about this breaking story here.

I’m friends with a Pit Bull…and so are 2,764 others

A  Pit Bull named Little Red is proving to many folks that Pit Bulls are lovable creatures deserving of a good home.  I’m proud to say that I’m one of Little Red’s 2,765 Facebook friends (and she’ll probably have more by the time you read this).

Little Red was rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz kennels.  From there, she traveled to Kanab, Utah to the Best Friends Pet Sanctuary for rehabilitation.  Known as ‘Vicktory Dogs,’ all of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s properties were segregated from all non-staff at the Sanctuary under court order.

It took years to see Little Red come back to a state where she could be adopted.  Her adoptive owner, Susan, never gave up hope about Little Red after seeing a photo of her shortly after her rescue.  Susan sponsored Little Red and kept in touch about her progress.  By February 2011, Susan was able to go to the Sanctuary to visit with Little Red.  In September 2011, she was cleared to be Little Red’s foster mother.

This is their story:

There are still those who believe in breed-specific legislation and it is dogs like Little Red that prove that these rushes to judgement are unnecessary and unwarranted.

I’ve previously written (June 2011) about Michael Vick and the book concerning the rehabilitation of some of his Pit Bulls.

Thank heavens for the good people at Best Friends who took in so many Vicktory Dogs and worked with them on the long journey to rehabilitation.

Source:  Best Friends Sanctuary Stories

Michael Vick – a time for forgiveness?

Michael Vick is known for two things:  NFL football and dog fighting.

Earlier this week, Michael Vick was named the Subway Sportsman of the Year at the Black Entertainment Television (BET) awards for his efforts as the quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.  His performance was lauded as exceptional “after being off the field for 20 months.”

The win has sparked outrage amongst animal lovers and activists in the United States with a petition on Facebook to boycott the Subway restaurant chain (No Way Subway).  There are those who say that, as sponsor of the award, the Subway corporation cannot influence the outcome of voting.  Others with experience in the management of professional sport say that the restaurant chain’s management would have been told of the outcome of the voting regardless of the winner – giving them time to prepare publicity about it.   Protestors say that this would have been an opportunity for Subway to distance themselves from the winner if they had wanted to.

This debate opens up wounds that are still fairly recent for most dog lovers.  Michael Vick pleaded guilty for his actions that spanned the years 2001 – 2007 as a co-conspirator and financial backer of a dog fighting ring.  That’s over 6 years of criminal behaviour and only 4 years later, he’s back playing NFL football, earning big bucks for it, and – now- public accolades.

Is it time to forgive Michael Vick?

The details behind the Vick dog fighting ring are not pretty.  The pit bulls involved in the operation were terrorized to make them mean and angry.  Dogs who were deemed to be unsuitable for fighting were cruelly killed.  A 2009 article in the San Francisco Chronicle provides some of the ugly details of the ill-treatment of the dogs.  For example, how the dogs were electrocuted by attaching jumper cables to their ears and throwing them into a swimming pool to struggle and die.  The sides of the pool had telltale scratches and dents from the dogs as they fought to escape.

Is it time to forgive Michael Vick?

A big enabler of forgiveness is when an offender expresses regret for their actions and the consequences of them.  Unfortunately, there is nothing on the record that shows that Michael Vick understood the cruel nature of some of his offending.

In his public statement after pleading guilty to a range of charges, Mr Vick acknowledges that he was ‘immature’ and how he let his fans down.    Is this regret for the offending or regret for getting caught?

For more details of the case, read the plea agreement and statement of facts which I have also downloaded for you.

Michael Vick’s comeback to professional football has come comparatively soon compared to the years he spent offending.  Is this right?  Or is it the usual story of professional athletes getting put on a pedestal because of their prowess on the sports field?  The official record on this case is that Michael Vick has paid his debt to society and is a free man to go about his profession as a professional football player.

Is it time to forgive Michael Vick?  Only you can decide for yourself after weighing up the facts.

For the record:  I’m not ready to forgive Michael Vick.  He hasn’t shown he’s sorry and with the attention he is now getting for his football play, I doubt he ever will.  I have to respect, however, that he is technically a free man.  That doesn’t make me happy and I reserve the individual right to protest against any company or franchise that backs him.  In my opinion, his lack of true remorse is equivalent to an endorsement of animal cruelty and dog fighting and organisations would do well by distancing themselves from such an individual.    I’m not ready to forgive Michael Vick and I don’t want to see him endorsed by any awards programme.

Footnote:  As part of the plea agreement, Michael Vick was required to establish a fund for the care and rehabilitation of the dogs found at his Bad Newz Kennels.  Their story is told in a book which I highly recommend:

The Lost Dogs:  Michael Vick’s Dogs and their Tale of Rescue and Redemption.

Kathleen Crisley, Fear-Free certified professional and specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced DogChristchurch, New Zealand