Former pit bulls of Sick Vick making the most of their second chance

January 27, 2008

HectorBless the folks at BAD RAP and the ASPCA who insisted that these dogs be evaluated as individuals. From Cheryl Wittenauer of the Associated Press (with fabulous pictures from the AP’s Eric Risberg) :

His back resting comfortably against her chest, Hector nestles his massive canine head into Leslie Nuccio’s shoulder, high-fiving pit bull paws against human hands.

The big dog — 52 pounds — is social, people-focused, happy now, it seems, wearing a rhinestone collar in his new home in sunny California.

But as Hector sits up, deep scars stand out on his chest, and his eyes are imploring.

Hector ought to be dead […] — killed in one of his staged fights, or executed for not being “game” enough, not winning, or euthanized by those who see pit bulls seized in busts as “kennel trash,” unsuited to any kind of normal life.

Here’s the rest (be sure to click on the images link). And here’s a slideshow at BADRAP. Look at these darling dogs!

And here’s a list of the people who made it happen, from the ASPCA’s media release:

The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) worked closely with federal authorities at every step of the case, first assisting in the investigation itself through the involvement of Dr. Melinda Merck, forensic veterinarian with the ASPCA, and later when Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, CAAB, executive vice president, National Programs for the ASPCA, led a team of several Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (trained animal behavior experts who have been certified by the Animal Behavior Society) in the behavior evaluations of the seized dogs.


In addition to Dr. Zawistowski, the evaluation team comprised the following: Dr. Randall Lockwood, CAAB, senior vice president, Anti-Cruelty Initiatives and Legislative Services, ASPCA; Dr. Pamela J. Reid, CAAB, vice president, Animal Behavior Center, ASPCA; Dr. Daniel Q. Estep, CAAB, of Animal Behavior Associates, Littleton, Colo.; Dr. Crista Coppola, CAAB, of Tucson, Ariz.; and Nancy Williams, Associate CAAB, of Manchester, Md.

In addition, BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls), a San Francisco-based non profit organization that is an educational resource for pit bull owners and the shelters that house them, also worked with the ASPCA-led team to help identify dogs that could be absorbed into experienced foster programs for further observation and possible re-homing into appropriate homes. BAD RAP was represented on the evaluation team by co-founders Tim Racer and Donna Reynolds. Finally, Justin Phillips, shelter supervisor/behavior supervisor of the SPCA of Monterey County, Calif., was also part of the BAD RAP team.

These people put it all on the line for these dogs. Good job, all of you.

More: BAD RAP’s Tim Racer on CNN. Great interview, and it’s nine minutes long! The message: Dogs are individuals. I hope these abuse survivors open some eyes and some hearts, especially at the nation’s so-called “animal advocacy” groups that pushed for an automatic and sweeping death sentence for the former fighters. (Thanks for the pointer, Pat!)

And finally, speaking of “animal advocacy” groups, thanks to Luisa at Lassie Get Help for this gem from PETA:

[F]rom the boundless, staggering ignorance dept., a PETA news release:

For Immediate Release:
January 24, 2008

Richmond, Va. – Holding signs that read, “Report Dogfighters” and “Dogs Deserve Justice,” next to photos of dogs who have been mauled in fights, PETA members will rally outside the federal courthouse in Richmond on Friday as Williamsburg-area resident Oscar Allen is sentenced on dogfighting charges. Allen’s sentencing is related to the case that has already seen fallen Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and three codefendants receive prison terms.

Date: Friday, January 25
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Place: U.S. District Courthouse, 1000 E. Main St., Richmond


“Vick’s heinous dogfighting operation has been busted, but there are others just like it across the county,” says PETA Vice President Daphna Nachminovitch. “We’re calling on people across the U.S. to report dogfighters and for police and prosecutors to send them to jail.”

“Holding signs that read, ‘Dogs Deserve Justice'”? [Stop laughing, dammit!] Yes, that’s the same Daphna Nachminovitch who told the press, “These dogs are a ticking time bomb. Rehabilitating fighting dogs is not in the cards. It’s widely accepted that euthanasia is the most humane thing for them.” Yes, the same Daphna Nachminovitch whose organization wants all pit bulls dead. Ironic? Ironic doesn’t even come close. Talk to the paw, Daphna: a bad day for PETA has been a very, very good day for some very good dogs.

Amen, Luisa.

As Nathan Winograd asks, “Why is anyone still listening to PETA?”


Filed under: pets, connected — Gina Spadafori @ 5:21 pm


  1. I was so thrilled to see that this piece was the headline story for this AM’s CNN-US edition. What a great story. More power to BAD RAP for having the moxie to step up and ask to evaluate the dogs.

    And I got my answer about Rosie.

    Why DOES anyone listen to PETA anymore?

    Comment by Lynn — January 27, 2008 @ 7:21 pm

  2. uh Luisa, that’s not boundless “ignorance”. That’s boundless HYPOCRISY.
    The people who actually rescued and are caring for the Vick dogs are not allowed to fundraise using them… how disgusting is it that PETA and HSUS (which also wanted to kill them) can…

    Comment by EmilyS — January 28, 2008 @ 7:49 am

  3. big news updates at Best Friends today…

    kind of odd though. On one page they write, “Contrary to rumors and Internet speculation, Best Friends and the other rescues agreed not to “solicit money or conduct fundraising activities with the sole purpose of raising money for the care of one or more dogs received in the case.”

    And then on the new front page, they are asking for sponsorships for individual dogs. Presumably this fundraising was approved, but it sure does seem contradictory..

    Comment by EmilyS — January 28, 2008 @ 1:54 pm

  4. EmilyS:

    I don’t think it sounds contradictory. When they were awarded the care of Vick’s dogs I can’t believe any of the court officers expected Best Friends to give up their normal fund raising endeavors [for the non-Vick dogs].

    Comment by Lynn — January 28, 2008 @ 8:54 pm

  5. Well, after asking some people who should know, I find that this fundraising is not against any guidelines. I’m sure BF and all the other groups getting Vick $$$$ are adhering to whatever guidelines for use and reporting they are obligated to. As a believer in transparency, I’d like to see the groups report specifically on how they are using the Vick$$$ and other $$$$$ allocated from USDA for the dogs. I guess I’m just, um, disappointed?, that BF leaped to the fundraising game as an immediate component of promoting the Vick dogs.

    Comment by EmilyS — January 29, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

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