Former Vick dogs reunite for five-year anniversary photo

Seven dogs, rescued from Michael Vick’s dog-fighting operation in Virginia, pose with their owners. (Photo credit: Mark Rogers Photography/BADRAP)

October 27, 2012 marked the five-year anniversary of the discovery of NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s extensive dog fighting operation.

After Vick’s Pit Bull Terriers were seized, they were brought to several rescue organizations for care and rehabilitation. Two of those groups, Best Friends Animal Society’s Kanab, Utah dog sanctuary, Dogtown, and BADRAP, an organization out of Oakland, California, are looking back on the past five years and acknowledging the progress these dogs have made.

Dogtown co-manager Michelle Logan says that, even after all these years, the memory of Michael Vick’s crimes is still fresh in the minds of many.

“It has really brought to light the whole atrocity of Pit Bulls and dog fighting,” Logan told ABC 4 News of the Vick case’s legacy, “and the fact that Michael Vick is still in the headlines all the time, it brings to the forefront and keeps people aware.”

What a difference five years made in the lives of the rescued dogs, Logan explains. “Most of them have come so far out of their shells, it’s unbelievable to see,” Logan says of the Vicktory dogs’ journey. “When they first got here most of them were shut down, they would cower in the back of their crates.”

Ten of the Vicktory dogs taken in by the Best Friends Animal Society have been adopted by loving families. But after five years, 10 former Vick dogs still remain at Dogtown. Eight of them are still waiting for their forever homes. Two of Michael Vick’s most prized fighting dogs, Lucas and Merrill, will remain at the sanctuary for the rest of their lives due to a court order.

Over at BADRAP, the anniversary was a time of celebration. In honor of their five years of freedom, seven of the “Vicktory dogs” once housed at BADRAP gathered together for a family photo. Audie, Grace, Jonny Justice, Teddles, Zippy, Hector, and Uba posed for the celebratory shot alongside their proud owners last week.

Much has changed since their time at Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels. Many of the dogs have earned Canine Good Citizen titles, some are therapy dogs, and all of them are now beloved family members.

Audie is now an agility champion, despite the knee injuries he sustained as a fighting dog on Vick’s property. Uba visits hospitals as a therapy dog serving through the Delta Society’s Pet Partners. One of the dogs with the worst scars from his former life, Hector, now often visits schools, teaching children to look beyond negative Pit Bull stereotypes.

Jonny Justice recently made headlines for winning a GUND photo contest. He will soon be cuddling with children all over the country, as his image will be used to develop a new stuffed toy for the company. Jonny also enjoys story time as a Reading Assistant dog, sitting next to kids while they read to him.

Zippy spends her time snuggling with her family, which includes pre-teens Eliana and Vanessa and new baby Tatiana. Teddles is enjoying the good life as well; once so frightened of loud noises that he couldn’t pass the Canine Good Citizen exam, Teddles is now CGC certified and much calmer. He attends educational events and spends his downtime with his new family in Livermore, California.

For more information on the progress of these and other Vicktory dogs, check out BADRAP’s “Five Years Later” page.