After Michael Vick's 51 pit bulls were seized from his property in April 2007, two rescue groups took most of them in -- Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah, and BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls) in San Francisco. Several other groups around the country also opened their doors to the dogs: the Georgia SPCA, All or Nothing Rescue, Our Pack, Richmond Animal League, Recycled Love, the Animal Farm Foundation, the SPCA for Monterey, Out of the Pits, and Animal Rescue of Tidewater.That was background on this story, just in case some of you have been under a rock for over three-fucking-years. From the recent article in People Mag:
The little black-and-white dog knocked into furniture and hid things in his crate. He couldn’t go up or down stairs, didn’t know how to climb onto a couch. Flushing toilets and clanging pots sent him running from the room. He wasn’t a bad dog—he simply didn’t know any better; he’d never lived in a house. His lack of social grace earned him the name Jonny Rotten. “He was a caveman,” says Cris Cohen, a Burlingame, Calif., car-dealership manager who provided Jonny with a foster home. “He had no manners.”This story has a fairy tale....or tail...ending...I love it and I am glad that after all the hard work of BadRap and the folks in Utah, BestFriends, many of these dogs have been put back into homes and they are well-adjusted. The rest are working their way...slowly, back into society. I believe mutha fuckas...I believe they will all, or the majority of them will end up within our society as 'good dogs'.
That was understandable. Jonny was one of 51 pit bulls seized in April 2007 from Bad Newz Kennels, the Smithfield, Va., dogfighting ring run by Michael Vick, then quarterback of the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons. Although too young to have been a fighter, Jonny probably had his mettle tested a few times, and like most of the other Bad Newz dogs, he’d spent his entire life either locked up in a pen or chained to a rotating axle in the woods, with little or no positive interaction with people or other dogs.
After the raid on Vick’s property, Jonny and the other dogs were deemed evidence and put into shelters to be held until the investigation was complete. Conditions varied, but even the best dogs can break down after a few months of confinement. With Vick’s dogs, this wasn’t much of a concern; it was assumed they all would be destroyed upon the delivery of a verdict.
In fact, rescuers argued from the start that rather than be condemned as a whole, the dogs should be individually assessed and treated—and this has turned out to be one of the great lessons of the Bad Newz dogs. Generalizations and preconceptions are as unhelpful and counterproductive for pit bulls as they are for people.I love you Jonny, I really friggin do, sweet boy... ;)
Consider one of Vick’s other victims, Hector. A handsome brown dog with a black snout and deep scars on his chest, he had clearly been a fighter. Yet from the start he had nothing but love for the world. After moving through a few foster homes, he was adopted by Roo Yori. The director of care and enrichment at Animal Farm Foundation in upstate New York, Yori is best known as the human companion of Wallace the Pit Bull, a national flying-disc champ.
Hector shares his new home with Yori and his wife, Clara; Wallace; a rat terrier named Scooby; Angus, a black Lab mix; and a toy Australian shepherd called Mindy Lou, who runs the show with an iron paw. Hector fitted in from the start and never had a problem with anyone, human or canine. Under Yori’s guidance, the ex-fighter blossomed, earning several temperament awards and eventually becoming certified as a therapy dog, working with the sick and elderly, as well as troubled teens.
So what conclusions can we draw from the fates of Vick’s pits? “We know so little about dogs like these because so few of them have been allowed to live,” Dr. McMillan says. “We’re learning a lot, but the work still doesn’t permit concrete conclusions. These dogs really represent the start of these kinds of studies.”
Still, we now know for certain that while it may be faster and easier simply to exterminate dogs recovered from illegal fighting rings, it’s not the only option. Look how far Jonny has come. Cohen formally adopted him last year, and he, too, is a therapy dog, working in a program that encourages kids who are learning to read. The children who take turns reciting stories to him don’t know him as a pit bull or a Vick dog. No one knows him as Jonny Rotten, either. Along the way he acquired a new name. Now he’s Jonny Justice. (emphasis mine of course)