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Georgia, until we meet again

I am so very sad to have to pass along this news. Georgia, one of the dogs from the Michael Vick dogfighting case, has passed over the Rainbow Bridge. Her age was taking its toll, and her kidneys could just no longer keep up.

All of the Vicktory dogs captured our hearts, but maybe none more than Georgia. From her time on the National Geographic show “DogTown,” she was an instant star. That wonderful smile and loving personality won everyone over – whether she met someone in real life or through a television screen.

She became quite a celebrity over the years. Along with Dogtown trainer John Garcia, she snuggled her way across the national stage. From the “Ellen DeGeneres Show” to “Larry King Live,” she helped rewrite the story for pit-bull-terrier-type dogs everywhere.

We’re thankful for everyone who played a part in her redeeming life story – from the investigators who put an end to the Bad Newz Kennels, to every shelter worker who aided in the rescue, to every Best Friends staff member, volunteer, donor and supporter who helped give her a new lease on life. We’re especially thankful for her adopter, Amy. Amy was the perfect person for Georgia. It’s been almost two years that Georgia has been exactly where she should have always been: in a warm bed in a home, snuggled by people who love her dearly for the wonderful dog she was.

As I said, she touched so many people around the world, but maybe none more than some of the Best Friends staff who worked with her so closely. I wanted to pass along some of their thoughts.

John Garcia, trainer: Knowing that Georgia isn’t with us anymore is something that is very emotional for me. I worked closely with Georgia for the years that she lived at Best Friends, and she was, to say the least, a very special girl to me. Knowing she was with Amy, in a loving adopted home for the last part of her life is a great comfort since I know she finally was treated the way she deserved, not only with the love and respect that we gave her, but she finally had a couch and a bed and all of the “princess” things that she loved so much.

Georgia taught me so much more than I could have ever given her, not from her reputation or history, but simply because she was who she was and the world got to see it.

Michelle Besmehn, Dogtown manager: I guess what I would say I loved most about Georgia is that although it was apparent by looking at her when she arrived that her life had not been easy, she was still exuberant, confident and full of life. It was hard not to fall in love with her goofy grin and gigantic personality. She seemed to quickly settle in to her life here at Best Friends, surrounded by caregivers who loved her and an ever-growing fan club. She didn't miss a beat when it was time to do a little traveling with John Garcia or make an appearance on television. She was intelligent, silly and knew how to work a crowd.

With the help of her caregivers, she was able to achieve her Canine Good Citizen certification, which made her eligible for adoption. I am so grateful that Georgia was able to experience having her own home and family. She was truly loved and spoiled rotten (as it should be)! One of the more recent updates was about Georgia taking a vacation to the beach. There was an incredible picture of her walking towards the ocean. She looked peaceful and content. These are the updates that make me feel lucky that I have been a part of the journey for each of the Vicktory dogs. Georgia was an incredible soul and she will be missed.

Ledy VanKavage, senior legislative attorney, pit bull initiatives: Georgia was a little game-bred dog who truly was a game changer for all dogs seized in fight busts. Despite the horrible abuse she endured, she loved folks, charmed her way onto the set of ‘Ellen,' and rubbed shoulders with Hollywood elite. Through her, we learned that all dogs are individuals and deserve a chance – even ex-fighting dogs. God speed, Georgia – you were one of a kind.

I’ll always remember her pink collar and her beautiful smile. As with all the Vicktory dogs, she exuded a bright light and love that was very special. I am heartbroken today to know that light is gone from the Earth. However, I'm forever thankful for Georgia's contributions to the future for pit-bull-terrier-type dogs. She has truly left a mark on the world.

Georgia, please say hi to Lucas for us. We’ll see you again.

Gregory Castle, CEO emeritus, Best Friends Animal Society Gregory Castle
CEO emeritus
Best Friends Animal Society