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Dogs Deserve Better closes on Vick house

It’s a done deal: Dogs Deserve Better, a nonprofit group that fights chaining, penning and other forms of cruelty to dogs, has closed on Michael Vick’s old house — the former headquarters of the quarterback’s dogfighting operation, Bad Newz Kennels.

Dogs Deserve Better plans to turn the property in Surry County, Virginia, into a center to rehabilitate and resocialize dogs that have been mistreated and abused, with the hope of finding them adoptive homes.

The name of the facility will be: The Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.

The potential deal, which we told you about in February, became a reality in May, when Dogs Deserve Better raised enough money for the down payment and secured a bank loan to purchase the 4,600-square-foot white brick house and surrounding 15 acres.

The group paid $176,507 as the down payment for the house, liisted at $595,000, and is still raising money to pay for the rest and make improvements.

Once complete, it will be a $2.5 million facility, founder Tamira Thayne said told the Virginian-Pilot.

“Purchasing this property and in effect giving it back to the victims of the abuse that occurred here is a very powerful step for animal advocates and our country’s dogs alike,” said Thayne. “We are sending a message to those who want to abuse and fight dogs that a new day is dawning in America, a day where dogs are treated with the love and respect they deserve as companions to humans.”

The Washington Post had a report on the property’s transition from a place of nightmares to a place of hope earlier this month.

Dogs Deserve Better, which will move from its Pennsylvania base to Virginia,  has never had a facility of its own, but it says it has rescued and rehomed more than 3,000 dogs during its existence.

Dogs Deserve Better says having the facililty in a house will help in socializing the dogs it takes in. The group hopes to rescue and rehabilitate 500 dogs a year.

Thayne said that, in addition to welcoming visitors, Dogs Deserve Better will also build a memorial on the property for the dogs who died and suffered there, according to Dogster.com.

For more information on the purchase, the plans and how you can donate, visit the website of Dogs Deserve Better.

Nubs’ story headed for the big screen

nubs3Warner Bros. is buying the story of Nubs, the stray Iraqi mutt who befriended a group of Marines and was shipped home to the U.S. by one of them.

Nubs — so named because most of both his years were lopped off by Iraqi soldiers — befriended Marine Major Brian Dennis and his fellow soldiers while Dennis was on patrol in the Anbar province. When Dennis was required to report to another location, 70 miles away, he bid Nubs farewell, but two days later, Nubs showed up at his new camp.

The story became a media phenomenon in the fall, with Dennis and Nubs appearing on  “Today,” “The Tonight Show With Conan O’Brien” and “The Ellen DeGeneres Show.”

In addition to Dennis’ life rights, filmmakers have acquired the top-selling children’s book “Nubs: A Marine, a Mutt and a Miracle,” which Dennis wrote with Mary Nethery and Kirby Larson. The Little, Brown Books for Young Readers title was published two weeks ago and sits at No. 4 on the New York Times children’s best-seller list.

Justin Zackham (“The Bucket List”) will write and produce the film, according to a Reuters report.

(You can learn more about Nubs, and other dog books, on our book page, Good Dog Reads.)

Five-legged dog saved from life in a sideshow

allysonWe’ve brought you a lot of three-legged dog stories, but it’s not too often we run across a five-legged dog story — especially one as heartwarming as this one.

Allyson Siegel of Charlotte, N.C. is paying $4,000 to buy a five-legged Chihuahua-terrier mix, named “Precious,” saving her from life as a sideshow freak.

She’ll be paying at least $2,000 more for medical expenses to remove the fifth leg.

And, in another decision we fully support, she’s changing the dog’s name  to Lilly.

Siegel, 45, bought the puppy from Gastonia resident Calvin Owensby last week because she couldn’t bear to see her sold to the owner of a Coney Island sideshow that features deformed animals, according to the Charlotte Observer.

The dog was born about six weeks ago and is healthy except for the extra appendage, which hangs down between her two back legs and has no feeling.

When John Strong, the owner of a Coney Island sideshow, heard about Precious/Lilly from a friend, he contacted Owensby and agreed to the $3,000 asking price.

“There are millions of dogs with four legs, and there are only three with five legs I’m aware of,” said Strong.

The money couldn’t have come at a better time for Owensby, a 57-year-old electrician who was laid off in December. “I’ve been looking for work, can’t find work nowhere,” he said. “It hurts when you go from $500 a week to nothing.”

Strong, who has 27 live animals and 250 stuffed, preserved or mummified ones, is a newcomer to Coney Island who opened his operation just down the street from a well-established rival sideshow.

But when a local paper published Owensby’s plans to buy Precious/Lilly – and his phone number – he started getting calls from irate animal lovers, protesting the sale and “cussing me out.”

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