Usually, dogs rescued from dog fighting rings are marked for euthanasia. But this time, something different happened. All 51 dogs would be evaluated individually by a team of experts to help determine their fate. In addition, Vick was to pay close to $1 million to fund the efforts. Not near enough for many people, but it was more than other dogs had gotten.
Rescue groups all over the country jumped at the chance to be a part of the rehabilitation, to give these dogs some semblance of a normal life. Most were pit bulls or pit mixes, but there was some additional breed diversity.
So what happened to these rescued dogs? Where are they now?
Enter Jim Gorant. His new book, entitled "The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption", comes out on September 16th, 2010, and we were lucky enough to get a review copy last week.
Quick verdict: Buy this book.
Gorant starts off talking about Vick and the development of the case against him. These accounts are interwoven with short bursts of exposition from various dogs' point of view, dogs who are in a terrible situation. This part combines to make you angry at Vick and break your heart at the same time.
The real focus in the first 3rd of the book, however, is the people who helped orchestrate Vick's eventual downfall, their thought processes in gathering evidence, their investigations and interviews, and finally their decision in taking the case to the federal level. It's a riveting read that goes into detail I hadn't known before, and brings well deserved attention to people who did some good.
Ultimately though, this book is about the dogs, and the remainder of it is dedicated to their fate. At the end of the book, you'll get a paragraph or two detailing the path each dog took and how they spend their days now. But before that, Gorant gives us the full, detailed stories of six of the dogs and their rescuers, and the struggles and triumphs they shared.
You'll run through the entire gambit of emotions as you read about Jasmine, Jonny Rotten, and Little Red, from smiling to laughter to tears. At least, if you're in any way human ;)
This is an important book for dog lovers, and especially pit bull lovers. It puts the lie to many of the myths out there, and strikes at the heart of the various hate-filled websites against pit bulls.
Out of the 51 dogs rescued, at least 20 were suitable for foster care immediately. Others were sent to sanctuaries, and after some work, were then sent to foster homes. Many of the fosters passed the Canine Good Citizen Test and the ATTS behavior test, and some are currently working as therapy dogs.
Only two had to be euthanized. One for aggression, and one because of a severe health problem that was inoperable and causing the dog pain.
And this was after the president of the Humane Society, Wayne Pacelle, publicly stated that it didn't make sense to keep any of the dogs alive.
One law enforcement officer experienced with dog fighting is quoted as saying that as many as 80% of the dogs in a typical dog fighting operation never fight, even when coaxed and treated harshly and trained for it. 80% just don't show the aggression necessary. This is simply astounding.
At the end of the book, Gorant thanks the dogs, simply for being dogs. And I say amen to that.