Vick dogs go public

This morning, the last defendant in the Michael Vick dogfighting case was sentenced, and the gag order on the case lifted. Now, for the first time, the public can meet the dogs seized from the fighting ring.

In a first for dogfighting cases, the court allowed the seized dogs to be evaluated by dog experts, rather than euthanizing them. An ASPCA-led team found that of 49 dogs, just one needed to be put down for aggression.

Teaching the dogs that people are okay

Twenty-two of the dogs did so well the team recommended they go to foster homes for training and observation, and then be considered for adoption. These dogs are now under the care of pit bull-savvy rescue groups across the country where they’ll undergo training and observation for six months to a year, and adjust to life as a family dog.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do to teach these dogs that the world is safe, and the people in it are good,” says Donna Reynolds, co-founder of Oakland, California-based BAD RAP, one of the rescue groups involved. “We knew there were dogs in that yard who’d be fine in the outside world, and sure enough they didn’t disappoint.” (See more on BAD RAP in Fighting for the Underdog.)

BAD RAP and Oakland Animal Services announced today the creation of a new animal welfare program, called Code 597. “Abuse and neglect of animals is an everyday occurrence here in Oakland,” says Oakland Animal Services (OAS) Director Adam Parascandola. “The program will provide assistance to Oakland citizens to help them be more responsible and humane guardians of their animals.”

Lifelong sanctuary

The rest of the dogs are divided between six other rescue groups and the Best Friends Animal Society, a large sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

In addition to funding the fighting ring, Vick, age 27, confessed to playing an active role in hanging, drowning, and electrocuting some of the pit bulls kept on his 15-acre property in southeastern Virginia. In December, he was sentenced to 23 months in prison.

Meet the dogs!

See DogTime’s exclusive videos of four Vick dogs rescued by Bad Rap:

  • Jonny Justice
  • Ernie
  • Hector
  • Uba

January 25, 2008