Dori Edwards, Global Animal

October 27 marked the fifth anniversary of the San Francisco, California arrival of 13 dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels. In celebration of the progress and success of these once abused dogs, seven of the canines and their current guardians reunited for a family photo at BadRap, one of the two non-profit organizations that took in Vick’s fighting dogs. 

Many believed that the recovered dogs from Bad Newz Kennels were violent and should be euthanized, but BadRap was determined to rehabilitate Vick’s canine victims. Thanks to the compassionate persons at BadRap and the amazing families who adopted the companions, the dogs  “have gone on to earn impressive accolades, and all have proven themselves to be cherished family companions,” stated BadRap director Donna Reynolds. 

The seven California dogs are registered as Canine Good Citizens, and three work as hospital therapy dogs and children’s literacy program visitors. Many of the dogs have also received additional recognition for their triumphs despite their traumatic earlier lives. 

One of the canines, Audie, who suffered two injured knees from his experiences at Bad Newz Kennels, is now competing in agility circles and recently received his Excellent A Preferred Standard Title during the summer. Audie is also the star of a children’s book titled “Saving Audie.” 

Seven of Vick’s abused dogs and their adopted families reunited in California for a precious family photo. Photo Credit: Mark Rogers Photography

Another survivor, Johnny Justice, is a Reading Assistant who encourages kids to read out loud and was selected as a model for a new stuffed animal created by Gund toys. Miniature stuffed Johnny Justices will be available for purchase in 2013. 

Hector, who suffers deep scars from his battles at Bad Newz Kennels, is now a public educator about compassion for animals in elementary schools. He earned a humane education award from Brooklyn Law School for his humanitarian work.  

“So much focus has centered on their former abuser when really, the most stunning performance in this saga continues to be the dogs who survived unimaginable hardships,” says Reynolds of the event. 

Authors Ken Foster and Jim Gorant were in attendance at the special meeting. Foster wrote the book “I’m A Good Dog,” a photo and written tribute to pit bulls, while Gorant authored “The Lost Dogs,” a documentation of Bad Newz Kennel’s rescued fighters, and “Wallace,” the story of a flying disc champion pitbull. Wallace made a celebrity appearance at the reunion.  

As Deborah Reynolds aptly expressed, “At this point, we tend to forget that they’re so-called ‘Vick dogs’ since they’re just normal family dogs to the people who know and love them. But the five year anniversary gives us an opportunity to celebrate their normalcy as well as their accomplishments. They’re all heroes and they have so much to teach us about come backs, resiliency and embracing the joy of the present moment.”

The amazing journey of these recovered dogs demonstrates the irrepressibility of a canine’s loving nature. After their many years of abuse, the dogs were still able to become faithful companions to their families as well as the community. 

Watch the video of the fun involved while capturing the family photo.

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