Michael Vick has been in the news quite recently, showing up at PetSmart to train his puppy and getting his book tour canceled by angry dog lovers. Though it remains to be seen whether anything positive comes from the anger, one group involved with Vick appears to be feeling just fine.
His former dogs.
This week, six families who adopted “Vicktory dogs” (so-named after being resuced from the dog-fighting operation) met at Best Friends’ Animal Society of Kanab, UT, to mark five years of freedom.
“The Vicktory Dogs, the dogs from Michael Vick’s kennel, really helped us truly understand that all dogs are individuals,” Judah Batista, the facility’s director of animal care, told Fox 13 News. “To convict the dogs based on their owners is an incredibly unfair thing to do.”
The dogs arrived from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels battered and bruised in 2008, and as they regained their health they were slowly adopted out. The families kept in touch throughout the years, but never met — until now.
“It feels like as much of a growing and healing occasion for the people as much as it does the dogs,” Richard Hunter, who owns a Vicktory dog named Mel, told ABC News.
Paul, who owns Cherry Garcia, said, “It’s been amazing. We’re all staying in the same place — so we have six ex-fighting Pit Bulls staying in the same place — and you’d never know that these dogs were born, bred, and trained to fight; the furthest thing on their mind is fighting.”
The families spent the weekend together at the sanctuary, and the dogs — Cherry, Handsome Dan, Halle, Little Red, Mel, and Oscar — got along great.
“They have just had such a great time together. The families have had such a great time meeting in person,” said Paul. “Really, to come together as one big family has been a magical moment.”
On Monday, the group invited the public to visit the dogs, and more than 150 people showed up. One by one, the families took the stage and related stories about how their dogs came out of their shells, changing from the shy and shutdown animals they were.
“We want to show the world that they can become adoptable; we want to show the world that they can become normal dogs and be positive influences in their community,” Paul said.
Watch a video of the event:
Read more about Michael Vick and BSL:
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