Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: The fate of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs

Why isn’t Michael Vick banned from pro football for life? By Rebecca Frankel Best Defense chief canine correspondent There is happy news for many of the 51 dogs rescued from football player Michael Vick’s dog-fighting compound that he called “Bad Newz Kennels” and ran for a minimum of four years. Because Vick was fined nearly ...

Why isn't Michael Vick banned from pro football for life?

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense chief canine correspondent

There is happy news for many of the 51 dogs rescued from football player Michael Vick's dog-fighting compound that he called "Bad Newz Kennels" and ran for a minimum of four years. Because Vick was fined nearly a million dollars, money was available to assemble a team to assess the dogs, which showed signs of abuse and torture. After careful evaluation of each individual dog, many were successfully rehabilitated and then placed in homes as pets, or are coexisting with other dogs peacefully in an animal sanctuary. A few of these former fighting dogs have even become certified therapy dogs. Jim Gorant, a senior editor at Sports Illustrated, has written a book about these dogs, The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption. In a situation where these dogs would otherwise been euthanized, it's a happy twist of fate. Gorant, now a clear defender of pit bulls, goes as far as to say:

Why isn’t Michael Vick banned from pro football for life?

By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense chief canine correspondent

There is happy news for many of the 51 dogs rescued from football player Michael Vick’s dog-fighting compound that he called “Bad Newz Kennels” and ran for a minimum of four years. Because Vick was fined nearly a million dollars, money was available to assemble a team to assess the dogs, which showed signs of abuse and torture. After careful evaluation of each individual dog, many were successfully rehabilitated and then placed in homes as pets, or are coexisting with other dogs peacefully in an animal sanctuary. A few of these former fighting dogs have even become certified therapy dogs. Jim Gorant, a senior editor at Sports Illustrated, has written a book about these dogs, The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption. In a situation where these dogs would otherwise been euthanized, it’s a happy twist of fate. Gorant, now a clear defender of pit bulls, goes as far as to say:

As odd as it may seem, Michael Vick may be the best thing that ever happened to the pit bull. He gave the forum to discuss this and make it possible to get the message out there that these dogs are not what they’ve been made out to be in the headlines, that they really are just sort of dogs. And a lot varies from each one to another and then how they’re raised and socialized and all of these issues that go around them. You can find the sweetest, most loving pit bulls in the world and you can find other dogs that are as mean as you want.”

Fresh Air, home of the best interviews in America, earlier this week did a moving show on Vick’s dogs with Gorant and others. 

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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