Washington Post highlights the Vicktory dogs, paying tribute to their courage, love and legacy

By Julie Castle

This weekend, the Washington Post will publish a multi-page story on the lives and legacy of the Vicktory dogs, who were rescued from former NFL football player Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring in 2007. Post reporter Emily Giambalvo visited Best Friends Animal Sanctuary with a photographer and interviewed many of the staff whose lives and work were reorganized to devote the time and attention needed to help the Vicktory dogs to heal. We also helped Emily connect with the people who’ve adopted some of the dogs. 

The Washington Post Vicktory dog article is online now. (It will also be part of the Post Reports daily podcast in the coming days.)

Legacy of the Vicktory dogs

The Vicktory dogs’ story has been something the media has been interested in talking about for 12 years. And those pups have changed the way people think about pit-bull-like dogs.

It’s been 11 years since the New York Times wrote about the 22 dogs who came to Best Friends to find solace, sanctuary or a loving home. In that time, the dogs have been written about in local and national newspapers and magazines, have appeared on numerous TV shows and have been the subject of an award-winning documentary, The Champions, that is a must-see for every animal lover.

Abused dogs who deserved a second chance

Best Friends stepped into the public arena to demonstrate what we already knew — that the canine victims of Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring were not monsters, and they didn’t deserve to be killed by virtue of their birth or the circumstances of their lives. We knew that they were just dogs, frightened and abused dogs, but dogs all the same, and they were every bit as deserving of a chance at a happy life as other dogs.

As The Champions points out, the Vicktory dogs didn’t just succeed. As a group, they excelled. Some became therapy dogs, another an agility champion, another a trickster and a clown, another loved to be dressed up, and others became loving family pets living with cats and kids. There are only two Vicktory dogs remaining at the Sanctuary, Curly and Meryl. The rest have been adopted or have passed. 

As a fitting coda to the story, Rebecca Huss, who was the federal court-appointed guardian and special master for the Vicktory dogs and who asked Best Friends to take on the 22 most challenging of the 47 dogs rescued from Vick’s Badnewz Kennels, has recently become general counsel for Best Friends.

It is good, then, that as we enter the final stages of these dogs’ lives that a national tribute is paid to all of them one more time.

Changing the negative stigma around former fighting dogs

The role that they played in changing perceptions and in changing laws cannot be over-emphasized. Caring for them and seeing them come into their own has been a privilege that everyone involved will remember for life. They truly are the champions of the story.

Together, we will Save Them All.

Vicktory Dogs

Julie Castle


Best Friends Animal Society