Tag: bad rap
In 2007, it was one of the most sickening, disheartening stories of the year — NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s arrest and imprisonment on dogfighting charges. Revelations of what transpired at Bad Newz Kennels showed just how cruel some humans can be.
By 2009, though, the story of Vick’s dogs had become one of the most heartening of the decade. What made the difference? Mainly, the dogs – the pit bulls. For despite what they’d been put through, despite being abused, trained as killers or used as bait, they were — once the decision was made not to euthanize them – amazing the world with their remarkable resiliency.
Saving and rehabilitating the former fighting dogs of Michael Vick was not achieved without a battle, and not without the efforts of a lot of dog-loving, self-sacrificing humans. But the silver lining that eventually shone through the dismal story was provided mainly by the dogs, who showed that, no matter how bad a human messes them up, there’s hope.
Once again, the irrepressible species was teaching us humans a lesson.
Vick’s former pit bulls have gone on to reside in new homes with young children, become cherished pets, serve as therapy dogs and, in many cases, serve as shining examples of what is right with and special about the much-maligned breed.
How all that transpired is rivetingly detailed in a new book by Jim Gorant, “The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption.”
(For a preview, you can read an article by Gorant in today’s Parade magazine.)
In the book, to be released next month, Gorant expands on his 2008 Sports Illustrated story on the Vick dogs (the one that featured Baltimore’s own Sweet Jasmine on the cover), recounting how they were rescued from Vick’s estate and how — though euthanasia was routine until then for animals seized from dogfighting operations – they were saved from that fate by an outpouring of public appeals.
The outcry helped lead to a court order that Vick pay nearly a million dollars in “restitution” to the dogs — money used to allow a handful of agencies across the country to rehabilitate them.
The book recounts the ASPCA-led evaluations of each dog — and how, though there were a few hardened fighters among them, many more were dogs ready to be loved, ready to forgive and try to forget.
In “The Lost Dogs,” we learn more about Johnny Justice, the former Vick dog that participates in Paws for Tales, which lets kids get more comfortable with their reading skills by reading aloud to dogs; about Leo, who now spends three hours a week with cancer patients and troubled teens; and about Sweet Jasmine, who was coming out of her shell while living in Baltimore until she got loose and was hit by a car.
The book lists the outcomes for all 49 of the surviving pit bulls that were seized in April 2007 from Bad Newz Kennels, the Smithfield, Va., dogfighting ring run by Vick, then quarterback of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, now — getting a multi-million dollar second chance of his own — a quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.
While experts were expecting only 5 percent of Vick’s dogs could be rehabilitated, only two, initially, had to be put down. One was excessively violent and the other was suffering from an irreparable injury. For the rest, though, there was hope, and no small amount of faith – which, more than anything else is what “The Lost Dogs” is about.
Rather than showing aggression, the Vick dogs tended to be “pancake dogs”— animals so traumatized that they flattened themselves on the ground and trembled when humans neared, much like our friend Mel, the former Vick dog we recently met in our travels through Dallas.
Many more seemed to be dogs with normal temperaments, but who had simply never been socialized.
Accomplishing that fell to the handful of animal welfare organizations that stepped forward, offering to take the Vick dogs in and work to rehabilitate them — among them Baltimore’s Recycled Love, California’s BAD RAP, (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls), and Best Friends Animal Society in Utah.
As Gorant writes in the Parade magazine article, “… rescuers argued from the start that rather than be condemned as a whole, the dogs should be individually assessed and treated — and this has turned out to be one of the great lessons of the Bad Newz dogs. Generalizations and preconceptions are as unhelpful and counterproductive for pit bulls as they are for people.”
Posted by John Woestendiek August 15th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: abuse, animals, article, aspca, bad newz, bad rap, best friends, book, case, court, cruelty, dog books, dog fighting, dogfighting, dogs, euthanasia, good dog reads, jim gorant, lesson, lost dogs, magazine, maligned, michael vick, michael vick's dogs, nfl, parade, pets, philadelphia eagles, pit bull, pit bulls, pitbull, recycled love, redemption, rehabilitation, rescue, resiliency, saving, socialization, sports illustrated, sweet jasmine, temperament, the lost dogs, therapy dogs, vick, vick dogs
BAD RAP, the California pit bull advocacy group, invited Michael Vick to visit eight of his former dogs this weekend when the Philadelphia Eagles are in town to play the Oakland Raiders.
Vick declined the offer.
Tim Racer, BAD RAP co-founder, said the group picked a location that would have allowed Vick to view the dogs from behind a window at a distance — thus satisfying the conditions of Vick’s parole that bar him from being near animals.
Racer said the Eagles informed him Wednesday that Vick would decline the offer.
“We understand Vick is trying to right his wrongs and is very interested in redemption, but you can’t find redemption without acknowledging your victims,” Racer said. “Making amends to the dogs themselves would have helped to create some closure for many of us, especially those people who worked so hard to keep them from being destroyed. It seems that Vick is not ready to go there.”
Oakland-based BAD RAP took in 10 of the dogs that were part of Vick’s dogfighting operation at Bad Newz Kennels in southeastern Virginia.
(Photo: Ernie was among the dogs seized from Michael Vick. He was adopted by Andy and Sasha Gibbs. Courtesy of BAD RAP)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 15th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: advocacy, bad newz kennels, bad rap, bay area, dog fighting, dogfighting, invite, invited, michael vick, oakland raiders, philadelphia eagles, pit bull, pitbulls, see, tim racer
The most ambitious crackdown on dogfighting in American history has now led to the seizure of more than 450 dogs, with raids and arrests in eight states.
Following an investigation initiated by the The Humane Society of Missouri, officers from multiple federal and state law enforcement agencies made arrests and seized dogs in Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas in what was ”the largest simultaneous raid of multiple dogfighting operations in the history of the United States,” according to the Humane Society of the United States.
“This intervention is a momentous victory in our ongoing battle to end the cruel, criminal dogfighting industry,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS.
Pacelle reported on his blog: “Four United States Attorneys and a bevy of federal law enforcement agencies, along with The HSUS, The Humane Society of Missouri, and the ASPCA, raided multiple dogfighting operations, and seized at least 450 dogs, in what was the largest single day of actions against dogfighting in American history.”
The Humane Society of Missouri is sheltering more than 300 dogs — mostly pit bulls — seized in the Missouri and Illinois raids. The dogs will be housed, cared for and evaluated at an emergency shelter in St. Louis.
Posted by John Woestendiek July 10th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, arkansas, arrests, aspca, bad rap, crackdown, dog, dogfighting, ed sayres, fbi, fighting, forensic, history, hsus, humane society of missouri, humane society of the united states, illinois, investigation, investigator, iowa, largest, melinda merck, missouri, oklahoma, raid, texas, wayne pacelle
Animals seized from dogfighting operations and other cruelty investigations deserve a right to be independently reviewed, instead of being automatically euthanized, a coalition of animal welfare groups has agreed.
After a meeting in Las Vegas last week, The Humane Society of the United States has revised its policies and now recommends that all dogs seized from fighting operations be professionally evaluated, according to agreed upon standards, to determine whether they are suitable candidates for adoption.
Under the new policy, dogs deemed suitable for placement should be offered to adopters or to approved rescue organizations. The HSUS will update its law enforcement training manual and other materials to reflect this change in policy.
In addition, groups participating in the meeting have vowed to work together to help the canine victims of organized violence.
The meeting was prompted by the recent mass euthanasia of 145 dogs — including newly born puppies — that were seized from North Carolina Ed Faron, who bred fighting dogs at his Wildside Kennels.
The dogs were killed at the conclusion of his court case in Wilkes County, where authorities said their laws mandated the action. Unlike the dogs seized in the higher profile Michael Vick case, no efforts were made by the government, lawyers or major rescue organizations to save the Faron dogs, at least not until it was too late.
Lat week’s meeting was convened to address the matter of dogs seized as a result of cruelty investigations, particularly due to the increase in HSUS-led enforcement actions against dogfighters.
Participants at the meeting included Best Friends Animal Society, The Humane Society of the United States, BAD RAP, ASPCA, National Animal Control Association, Maddie’s Fund, Nevada Humane Society, and Spartanburg Humane Society.
The groups agreed that all dogs should be treated as individuals. They also agreed to support law enforcement and animal control agencies when decisions must be made regarding the dogs deemed unsuitable for adoption, and in cases when rescue organizations and adopters are unable, within a reasonable timeframe, to accept dogs from such raids that have been offered for adoption.
The organizations will form a working group to develop future protocols for cooperation in addressing the needs of dogs seized in raids, such as how to assist with the housing of fighting dogs, how to conduct professional evaluations, and how to screen potential adopters.
Posted by John Woestendiek April 13th, 2009 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adoption, aspca, assessments, bad rap, best friends, cruelty, dogfighting, dogs, euthanasia, euthanize, euthanized, hsus, investigations, las vegas, maddie's fund, meeting, national animal control association, nevada humane society, north carolina, pit bulls, policy, rescue, review, seized, shelter, spartanburg humane society, vigil
Jasmine — the pit bull who went from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation to life with a young family of four in suburban Baltimore — graces the cover of this month’s Sports Illustrated.
One of three Vick dogs turned over to the Baltimore rescue organization Recycled Love for rehabilitation, Jasmine ended up in the home of Catalina Stirling, a 35-year-old artist and Recycled Love volunteer who, upon first meeting Jasmine, crawled into the cage where the dog cowered beneath a blanket.
The Sports Illustrated article looks at what has become of the 51 dogs seized from Vick’s Virginia estate — dogs that even some animal welfare organizations were saying had been so brutalized that euthanasia, not rehabilitation, was the only solution.
Jasmine was likely born at Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels and, because of her youth, was a “bait dog,” used to provide practice matches for the fighting dogs, spending the rest of the time chained to a car axle in the nearby woods.
During evaluations of the Vick dogs, Jasmine was being considered for sanctuary with Best Friends in Utah, where the most severely traumatized dogs were sent, when Recycled Love volunteers went to see her and the other dogs being held at the Washington (DC) Animal Rescue League.
Stirling, seeing the dog under the blanket, crawled into the cage and began massaging and whispering to her, and Jasmine seemed to respond. The dog was turned over to Recycled Love, then sent to live with Stirling, her husband, two young children, two other dogs and a cat.
For months, Jasmine sat in her cage in Stirling’s house and refused to come out. “I had to pick her up and carry her outside so she could go to the bathroom,” Stirling says. “She wouldn’t even stand up until I had walked away. There’s a little hole in the yard, and once she was done, she would go lie in the hole.”
It was almost four months before Jasmine would get out of the cage by herself. Visits from another Vick dog living in Maryland, Sweet Pea, helped draw Jasmine out of her shell — enough so that after six months Stirling could finally take both dogs for a walk in a park near her house.
Jasmine is still fearful, the article says. She almost always walks with her head and tail down. She won’t let anyone approach her from behind, and she still spends most of the day in her pen, sitting there quietly, even thought the door is open.
In the end, 47 of the 51 Vick dogs were saved. Two died while in the shelters. One was destroyed because it was too violent; and another was euthanized for medical reasons. Twenty-two dogs went to Best Friends. The other 25 have been spread around the country. Ten went to California with BAD RAP. Fourteen of the 25 have been placed in permanent homes, and the rest are in foster care.
(To learn more about the Vick dogs, you can check out ohmidog!’s earlier incarnation, Mutts.)
Posted by John Woestendiek December 31st, 2008 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 51 dogs, animals, bad rap, baltimore, best friends, catalina stirling, cover, dogfighting, dogs, four died, jasmine, maryland, michael vick, mutts, news, ohmidog!, recycled love, rehabilitation, sports illustrated, sweet pea, vick, vick dogs
Since 1999, BAD RAP has been working to rehabilitate pit bulls and their image – including some of those seized from Michael Vick’s Virginia estate/dogfighting ring.
While Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah took in the toughest cases — including the vicious beast pictured above — BAD RAP took in 13 of the Vick dogs, and so far homes have been found for ten of them, according to a profile of the group in last week’s Los Angeles Times.
The Vick dogs are among more than 400 pit bulls BAD RAP founders Tim Racer and Donna Reynolds have rescued since they started picking up strays in Chicago on winter nights.
After relocating to Oakland, the two commercial artists focused their rescue efforts on pits and formed Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls, or BAD RAP, to help reverse the dogs’ undeserved image.
“I give BAD RAP a lot of credit for what was accomplished with the Vick dogs,” said Rebecca Huss, a Valparaiso University law professor who was appointed by federal prosecutors to be guardian of the Vick dogs. “They were there at the forefront.”
Racer and Reynolds point out that a few generations ago pit bulls were considered America’s dog: The dogs helped sell bonds during World War I, were used to advertise RCA record players, and one, Petie, served as the mascot of “The Little Rascals,” the popular children’s TV show.
Now, thanks to misguided breeding and training, the animals are often raised to fight. They are by far the most commonly found breed in shelters nationwide, and hundreds of thousands are euthanized each year.
Only one of the Vick dogs was put down because of its temperament. Twenty-two, deemed either unsocialized or dog-aggressive, were sent to the Best Friends. The rest were placed with other groups, including Baltimore’s Recycled Love.
For a look at some of the other Vick dogs, click here.
(Photo: One of the Vick dogs at Best Friends, courtesy of Best Friends)