The last surviving ‘Vicktory dog’

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Lucas the Vicktory dog licking the nose of a person wearing a hat
By Julie Castle Photos by Molly Wald

Jonny Justice and Frodo, the last surviving "Vicktory dogs," passed in the last few days. They were among 47 canine survivors rescued in July of 2007 from Michael Vick’s brutal dog fighting ring.

The Vicktory dogs, as we called them, changed the course of animal welfare and the fate of pit-bull-terrier-like dogs and fight bust survivors. Best Friends took on the 22 most challenging of the dogs in January of 2008 and documented their rehabilitation with full transparency and included our work with them on the first season of the Nat Geo TV show DogTown, about Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah.

Prior to the Vicktory dogs, canine fight bust survivors, regardless of age or disposition were routinely killed just because of their choiceless association with human criminals and a media-hyped fear of pit-bull-terrier-like dogs.

But the Vicktory dogs as documented in the film, The Champions, turned all that on its head. They emerged as the heroes of the story with several, like Jonny, going on to become service and hospital therapy dogs. They included agility champions and breed ambassadors who visited with lawmakers and helped get breed discriminatory legislation reformed. But mainly the Vicktory dogs were what we knew them to be when we committed to a fully transparent rehabilitation of them: They were just dogs, and like all dogs they responded to kindness and built trust with their new families.

RIP, Jonny Justice and Frodo. You, along with all the Vicktory dogs are loved more than you will ever know, and your legacy will endure long after Michael Vick is forgotten.

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Dog