What Happened to Michael Vick’s Dogs? New Film Highlights Their Amazing Journeys
It’s been almost a decade since the scandal surrounding Michael Vick and his involvement in an illegal dogfighting ring in Virginia grabbed the nation’s attention. However, the dogs who were saved have not been forgotten and now their story is being told in a new film.
At the time the case stirred a lot of outrage and raised questions about how to move forward, dividing the animal welfare community. Should they be killed? Could they be rehabilitated? Could they ever be adopted?
Some said they were too damaged and dangerous and should be killed. Others fought valiantly for their lives, and they won, forever changing what happens in the aftermath of a bust.
Of the survivors, 10 of the more adoptable dogs went to BADRAP in California, while 22 of the most traumatized dogs went to Best Friends Animal Society in Utah where they would start over in new lives. Later they would become known as the Vicktory Dogs.
Some will stay at Best Friends forever, but others have since moved on to new homes. They’ve become members of their families, sharing their homes with human and animal siblings alike, and have gone on to become not only ambassadors for the breed, but powerful symbols of hope and resilience. They showed us all what can be done with a second chance.
Now their story is being told in “The Champions,” a new documentary created by Darcy Dennett, which just made its world premier over the weekend at the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF), which for the first time ever featured a “Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights” program for filmmakers who want to share stories that will change the world and, hopefully, our relationship with animals for the better.
From the film’s synopsis:
The documentary The Champions, follows five of the dogs, from the time they are first rescued through their adoption. It is not just about the dogs themselves, but how they change and inspire the people who come into their lives. It also follows-up with six dogs who remain at Best Friends to this day, some of them for life. Thanks to the work of Best Friends and BADRAP, dozens of the dogs who would have summarily been killed were given a second chance to prove that even fighting dogs rescued from the most extreme circumstances can be successfully rehabilitated with love, time, and patience. That in fact, what many of these dogs need to thrive isn’t rehabilitation at all, but time to recover.
Today, a majority of the dogs have successfully been placed into loving, adoptive homes. Their story proves that even creatures who have suffered the most unimaginable abuse have amazing strength, spirit, and resilience. It is a story of the bonds of trust and love we have with animals and their importance in our lives, a relationship that has the potential to bring out the best in the human and animal spirit.
The film also touches on something that continues to hurt pit bulls and their families in general: breed discrimination. Hopefully it will help continue to dispel the myths that surround these dogs and open the hearts and minds of more people who will stop fearing and targeting them based on stereotypes.
The Champions, which won the annual Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless Award” at HIFF this year, will be screening at select locations throughout the U.S. over the coming weeks. For more info, check out The Champions.
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