If you followed the headlining dog fighting case last Fall involving NFL quarterback Michael Vick and Bad Newz Kennels, you may remember that there was much concern as to whether the rescued pit bulls would need to be put down because of their breeding and training. I even assumed that this was an inevitability, based on early reports. This seemed grossly unfair to the dogs involved, which were finally freed of a despicable business they had never asked to be a part of, forced to be vicious just to survive.
But, in what can only be an act of grace, the judge who oversaw the fate of the dogs was careful to consult with advocates on both sides of the fence, as to whether the dogs would be able to be rehabilitated or not. And he decided for life in the face of almost precluded death. Nearly 50 pit bulls were rescued, and only two were put down because their health or level of aggression was unfortunately beyond remediation. The rest were placed in rehabilitation shelters, and Vick was ordered to help subsidize their care (see this report).
About half of the dogs were taken to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. The National Geographic Channel is running a show called Dogtown, based on Best Friends' dog shelter by the same name. The first episode, which is airing again tomorrow afternoon (Friday, Sept. 12), focuses on the transition and rehabilitation of the Vick pit bulls. If you've ever wondered what happened to them and how they're doing, it's a heartwarming and encouraging report. I also learned more about dog fighting and misconceptions about the pit bull breed in the process. A new episode will air tomorrow night as well, and the first season of Dogtown (three episodes) is on dvd.