The brave, beautiful dogs out of Bad Newz Kennel

Though bred to compete in the fighting ring, the dogs rescued from the property of professional football player Michael Vick went on to become champions of resiliency. Their astonishing courage proved that there's no such thing as "too damaged" or "beyond hope." And that no dog is inherently vicious, no matter her breed or background

Uncertain future

At Vick's Bad Newz Kennels, dogs endured cruelty that to most people is unimaginable. And sadly, when the dogs were finally discovered by authorities, they were in danger of being killed. Even some humane groups argued that these dogs were too traumatized and had been made too vicious to live.

Second chances where they matter most

Best Friends was among those who first advocated for these dogs. In the end, their lives were spared, and 22 of the most traumatized came here, to the Sanctuary, where the quest to heal them began. A new documentary film called “The Champions” follows several of the dogs in their journey and offers an uplifting glimpse into where they are now.

Hope, healing, and health

The journey wasn't easy. Some of the dogs would flatten themselves like pancakes to avoid being noticed by people. Some expressed fear toward both humans and other dogs. But they all received the training, veterinary care, compassion and in-depth emotional support they needed. For caregivers at the Sanctuary, the priority was to ensure the dogs' happiness and safety. But of course, there were questions. Could they be turned around? Could they lead normal lives? Could they ever be adopted into homes.

A resounding yes

The dogs that began life at Bad Newz kennels are now referred to as the Vicktory dogs, and with good reason. Many have earned their Canine Good Citizen certificate and are now adored family members in loving homes. Some went on to become service dogs or therapy dogs. Only two were ordered by the court to remain at Best Friends for life. Lucas, Vick’s grand champion, blossomed at Best Friends, but passed away in 2013.  Meryl is healing and blossoming, enjoying comfort and companionship here among the red rock canyons.

The work continues, nationwide

To this day, Best Friends continues to advocate against breed discrimination so that all dogs get a chance for a happy life. Sharing statistics and stories like these, which illustrate the true nature of these loving pit bull terriers, is part of the effort that is changing public perception and stopping breed discrimination.

Learn more about our Pit Bull Terrier Initiatives.

Join our fight to Save Them All by clicking here to receive our legislative alerts.

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