Former Vick dog wins Gund stuffed animal contest

Leslie Smith

Tuesday August 28th, 2012

Column screen shot 2012 08 28 at 10.36.23 am
Jonny Justice and friends (Photo credit: The Unexpected Pitbull/Laura Moss Photography.)

It's official: Earlier this week, Gund toy company announced results from its recent photo contest. Jonny Justice, a former Michael Vick dog, received the most votes by the public in its Most Beautiful Dog category. Judges then went on to deem him the overall Gund Top Dog grand prize winner. What does it mean? Jonny Justice's likeness will live forever as a Limited Edition plush pet.

Maybe he's not as famous (yet) as other canine icons like Lassie or Rin Tin Tin, but I get the sense this real life champ will ultimately emerge as America's dog. His story is as unlikely as it is compelling: Jonny and his fellow survivors rose above expectations and dissolved prejudices, quietly proving that resilience and forgiveness are the true marks of heroism.

Tough to predict who the next generation will choose to idolize and emulate. My hope, though, is that the legacy of Jonny Justice becomes as much a cultural reference as Atticus Finch or Superman. And toy stores everywhere will send the millions of unsold Michael Vick action figures back to the manufacturer. Perhaps to be melted down and made into eco-friendly poop bags.


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