Michael Vick's fighting dogs get second chance at life

Here is an article published on CNN.com, Almost all of the dogs were rehabilitated. APBT are a resiliant breed!

article by Dan Simon

She wags her tail and gives kisses to anyone who greets her. But the deep scars on her face are permanent reminders of her difficult and violent past.

Ellen is one of the 47 pit bulls seized from an illegal dog fighting ring on property owned by disgraced NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

The dogs were bred to fight to the death. Of course, if trained properly they can be gentle loyal pets.

Twenty-two of the pit bulls now reside at sanctuary at the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in the mountain town of Kanab, Utah. The 25 other dogs have been placed at rehabilitation shelters across the country.

All of them are lucky to be alive.

The Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wanted the dogs euthanized. But rescue operations won their fight to give these animals a second chance at life.

"There's a belief by a lot of people that these dogs cannot be rehabilitated," said the facility's veterinarian, Dr. Frank McMillan. "It's true that they can't all be [rehabilitated], but we're finding out here and elsewhere, that they can and they become very nice pets." Video Watch how the dogs are learning to interact with people »

The dogs have only been at the shelter about a month and their caregivers have already seen signs of progress.

"I was surprised at how many were shy. There were quite a few that were under socialized and pretty shut down," said Michelle Besmehn, who oversees the dogs at the sanctuary.

"I've been really pleased at how quickly they're coming around. It's actually been fun to see personalities are starting to show. "

One of the most affectionate and lovable dogs at the shelter is Lucas -- Vick's champion fighter.

Shelter staff believes the scarred, brown 65-pound pit bull won praise and special treatment for winning fights and money, perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars for Vick and his associates.

Despite his good nature, a court ruled that Lucas can never leave the sanctuary because of his violent past.

Dogs that didn't fight well were beaten, drowned, shot and even electrocuted by Vick and his associates, according to court records.

Thought it's nearly impossible to know the extent of the emotional and physical abuse these dogs endured, in some cases it's apparent.

One dog, Georgia, had all 42 of her teeth pulled. Caregivers believe it was to prevent her from attacking male dogs during forced breeding.

"We don't know who did it. We assume it's because she was such a valuable breeding dog," McMillian said. "Very often females will not accept males in breeding and will attack."

The National Geographic Channel will profile Georgia and three of the other pit bulls as part of an ongoing television series, "Dogtown," which follows the rehabilitation and resocialization of the worst cases.

The hope is that six months from now, some of the dogs will become normal, lovable pets that are safe enough to adopt.

Even if they never get adopted, the dogs will always have a home at Best Friends, which doesn't euthanize for behavioral reasons.

The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback is serving a 23-month sentence at maximum-security prison in Leavenworth, Kansas. The NFL suspended Vick indefinitely without pay. He agreed to pay nearly $1 million to subsidize the various facilities that are caring for his former pit bulls.

"To me, and to those of us that care about animals, it's more than fair and maybe not enough," said McMillan.

"If he wants to play football, none of us here care about that. But we don't want him ever owning a dog again."


  1. ** We do not condone dog fighting of any type**
    If you love pitts as much as is made obvious from you blog, and you therefore care for their welfare (and even post information on Vick's dogs), how can you not condone dog fighting?
    Do you understand that these amazing dogs are used as bait, are "raped" in order to breed, are beaten in order to be made more aggressive and are either abandoned, burnt or buried alive, drowned or hung when they become "worthless"?

  2. That makes no sense at all. Exactly what is your point?

  3. i can not believe that guy only if he could imagian to be one of those dogs. Its just so sad and breaks my heart to see what he was doing to these poor inasent dogs.:(

  4. SICK BASTARD hes one of those few people that ruin pit bulls name for everyone did you know that the pit bull dog has a higher pass rate in obedience than a labrador so how can that be a naturally vicious dog if you believe that you are unbeleivably stupid words cant describe how stupid you are

  5. pit bulls are loyal and loving animals. it its up to you and me and all pit bull lovers to educate ,promote and portray pit bulls in a positive manner to the uneducated public . We need to stand-up for pit bulls and thier rights to co-exist with all other breeds.

  6. To NOT condone, means they do not support dog fighting.

    Condone means support. "We do not condone" means "We do not support."

    Maybe take out a dictionary or go back to English class?

  7. Pitbull is a great dog, but the bull terrie is the best dog that I've seen.
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  8. Really, I don't understand how someone could hurt a dog like that. It makes me sick to my stomach. Pit Bulls are amazing dogs. I've got a rednose/blacklab mix and she's the best dog we've ever had. I also know someone who is paralyzed and he's got a rednose who acts as his protector,watches his kids, and even helps him around the house.
    I've seen the kind of help a pit bull can do. I have depression, as well as my dad, and my pit mx, Roxxanne, is always happy and up beat; it gives me hope in the worst of times. I honestly don't know why someone would force another living thing to fight to the death for their own pleasure.

  9. All the bullshit in the article abowe isn't good for the breed. "pull the teeth so she can be raped"!!! So dogmen think it's more easy to pull all the teeth one by one than put on a muzzle?
    Stop ALL the lies about pitbulls and their owners.
    Im amazed that even dogowners by this crap.
    Does anyone think that the Klitchko brother would be where they are if their trainers treated them like shit? It's the same with animals! For what ever reason people want to fight dogs I must supose they want thir dogs to win. Obviusly their dogs wont be winners if they tourture them, quite the opposite.
    And this Vick guy is some kind of athlet him self so he knows about motivation.
    But I'm European so I don't know much about your strange sports and training. Mayby your trainrs beat the living H out of your players their whole life to make them win? Well that might be the answer to why Americans can't compete in the biggest sport in the world.


Thank you for your interest, support the American Pit Bull Terriers!