Vicktory Dogs

Handsome Dan, one of the Vicktory Dogs.
Image: via The BarkPost

Earlier this month, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) celebrated National Dog Fighting Awareness Day (NDFAD), a day designated by the organization to increase awareness about the horrific culture of dog fighting that exists in America today. To commemorate the honorary day, many national humane societies and animal rights organizations took part in panel discussions, fundraising and adopting events, and dog fighting awareness activities. In honor of NDFAD, The BarkPost decided to feature some animals who once overcame great odds: the rescued dogs of former NFL player Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring.

Back in 2007, federal authorities discovered a large-scale dog fighting operation being housed at Vick’s sprawling Virginia compound. Vick and his cohorts were subsequently indicted on federal and felony charges related to the operation, and the world would soon come to learn of the gruesome, abusive, and deadly nature of the dog fighting ring. Animal rights groups and activists expressed a massive outpouring of public outrage, which drew international attention to the incident, and sparked action from groups such as the ASPCA.

Vicktory Dogs

Squeaker now lives with a loving family.
Image: via The Barkpost

Fast forward to 2014: miraculously, not only have many of the rescued dogs – called Vicktory Dogs – survived, they have adjusted beautifully to new lives full of love and safety. Explains The BarkPost, “In honor of national dog fighting awareness day through the ASPCA, we wanted to feature a few pups who overcame all the odds and proved that the pups are not vicious killers – they’re just regular dogs who’ve been put through extreme circumstances,” of the rescued Vicktory Dogs. Many of the animals rescued from the dog fighting ring were brought to Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, an organization that refused to give up on the abused animals, even when most people believed that there was no hope for them.

Pit Bulls are often perceived as aggressive and inherently vicious, a stereotype informed in part by the illegal dog fighting rings that often select this breed. Best Friends Animal Shelter believed in the Vicktory Dogs when no one else would. Explains the organization, the dogs were “used and abused – some as fighters, some as bait. […] It wasn’t easy. Some of the dogs would flatten themselves like pancakes to avoid being noticed by people. Some would threaten. And some needed medical attention,” of the challenges that faced those who sought to rehabilitate the dogs at Best Friends.

In the end, 22 of the most traumatized Vicktory Dogs were taken in by the organization, and all of them were treated, cared for, and given new loving homes. Dogs like Cherry, Little Red, and Handsome Dan have been able to regain the traits that make these dogs so remarkable. To see all of the success stories, be sure to visit The BarkPost’s Vicktory Dogs feature.