Vicktory dog reunion

As most of the followers of our blog know, in 2008 Best Friends Animal Society took in 22 dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels.

Something very special took place yesterday, March 11, at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary when six of the 22 dogs, who have been adopted, returned to mark five years of freedom. We call them the Vicktory dogs. Cherry, Handsome Dan, Halle, Little Red, Mel, Oscar and their families gathered at Angels Landing at the Sanctuary with staff, volunteers and visitors for what was just like a family reunion.

“We had a fantastic experience being with six of the families who adopted Vicktory dogs and had traveled here with their adopted Vicktory dogs, as well as their other dogs and their children,” says Judah Battista, Best Friends Animal Care director.

There were incredibly touching moments. Each dog has changed their family’s life as profoundly as their own life has changed. Richard (Mel’s dad) has become a very outspoken advocate of pit bulls. Handsome Dan’s family has a rescue group named after him, and they’ve been able to save many more dogs based in part on the public’s interest in Dan. It was wonderful to see all of their fans who showed up (over 150). They were all incredibly sensitive to the dogs’ needs.

“It was clear that the audience felt privileged to be able to meet the dogs and their families,” says Judah. “I know that I did.”

One by one, each of the adoptive families took the stage and shared some of the stories of their dogs. Over and over, we heard how the dogs have come out of their shells. How they have changed from the shy and shutdown dogs they once were.

Cherry joined his parents, Paul and Melissa, on the stage and lay down as if he were completely relaxed. Little Red played with the other dogs and enjoyed belly rubs from her former caregivers. Little Red was there with her mom, Susan, and didn’t even seem to notice the audience. Handsome Dan, who has a harder time in a crowd, sat in his doggie stroller, where he was joined by his three-year-old human sister.

Oscar didn’t join his mom, Rachel, on stage. He’s been in his home for about nine months and is still shy in such a public setting. Rachel mentioned that being connected to all of the other families and seeing how far their dogs have come gives her a glimpse of the dog that Oscar may one day be. Of course she loves him just the way he is.

Dog Care manager Michelle Besmehn says, “It was great for everyone to see how well the dogs are doing. It was a wonderful reminder of what we are all working for.”

John Garcia, who was co-manager of Dogtown with Michelle when the Vicktory dogs arrived five years ago, adds, “The Vicktory dogs have gone on to be amazing ambassadors for this breed and are helping save even more lives, which of course is why we are all here.”

Watch a video of the Vicktory dogs at the Sanctuary:


Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society