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In 2007, the U.S. watched in heartbreak as one of their beloved NFL players, Michael Vick, was indicted on running an illegal dog fighting operation. At the time, Vick was playing for the Atlanta Falcons as a quarterback, but his popularity and career were soon shattered once his cruel post-work activities came to light.
Just when Vick was beginning his “rookie year” as a professional football athlete at the age of 21, he started dog fighting operation “Bad Newz Kennels” with three associates — Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips, and Tony Taylor, as the Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF) reports.
According to the ALDF, Vick’s operation “housed and trained over 50 pit bull dogs, staged dog fights, killed dogs and ran a high stakes gambling ring with purses up to $26,000.”
All of these dogs endured immense suffering and pain as they were trained to fight to the death in the ring. Many also met their ends by other cruel means. The investigation detailed how dogs were hung from trees, drowned, and electrocuted when they were deemed useless.
After six years in operation, Vick’s fighting ring was finally shut down in 2007 and Vick, along with his three associates, were charged with violating the federal law “18 U.S.C. § 371 Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture,” the ALDF reports.
Once this victory was achieved, Vick’s remaining fighting dogs – 49 in total — were evaluated. One of these dogs was “recommended for euthanasia because of extreme aggression,” but luckily, all others were considered suitable for adoption and rehoming.
Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, took in 22 of the most traumatized pit bulls, where they received the love, affection, and care they needed in order to become eligible for adoption. These 22 dogs became known as “Vicktory Dogs,” for their amazing ability to overcome such adversity.
Two of the dogs have passed on, yet 10 are now living out their lives with kind, forever families and 12 still remain in the loving care of Best Friends Animal Society, as Michelle Weaver, manager of Best Friends Animal Society’s Dogtown, told the Huffington Post.
“The work we have done here at [BFAS], we have proved that if you treat each dog individually and … give them a chance, they can show how much potential they really have,” said Weaver via HuffPost. “Not only have the Vicktory Dogs had great outcomes but it proves that other dogs rescued from horrific situations such as dog fighting deserve a chance.”
Check out some of the dogs and their forever homes in the photos below!
To help Best Friends continue on with their amazing rescue and rehabilitation work, consider supporting them through a donation.
Lead image source: Best Friends Animal Society