Vick Dogs Saved, To Be Placed With Rescue Groups

Update December 6, 2007:  Following the ASPCA’s preliminary evaluation of the Vick dogs, the court appointed noted Valparaiso University Animal Law  Professor Rebecca Huss as their guardian/special master. Huss was tasked basically with conducting comprehensive assessments of the dogs and placing them with appropriate groups or persons. 

She has now filed a report recommending the Court place the remaining 47 dogs as follows: 22 dogs with Best Friends Animal Society; 10 with Bay Area Dog Lovers Responsible About Pit Bulls (BAD RAP); 4 with Richmond, Virginia Animal League; 3 with Georgia SPCA in Suwanee, Ga.; 3 with SPCA of Monterey County, California ; 3 with Recycled Love Inc. of Baltimore, Md.; 1 with Animal Rescue of Tidewater, Chesapeake, Va. ; and 1 with PACK (Pit Bull Advocates for Compassion and Kindness), San Francisco, Ca.

The Court has adopted Huss’ recommendations in a December 6 order and authorized the USDA to enter into agreements with the groups for the transfer and future care of the dogs. Huss’ recommendations and the Court’s order are attached to this article.

Vick has agreed as part of his sentence to pay a little over $928,000 for the care of the dogs. Huss recommended and the court has now ordered that for each dog the groups will receive $5,000 though in many cases in which the dog will likely require long term care, the group is to be paid $20,000 per dog.  It is not clear if local groups and shelters which have been caring for and housing the dogs will share in funds paid by Vick to cover their costs.

Unlike most dogs seized in dog fighting raids, these dogs will have a chance at a new life. The ASPCA and Huss have proved each dog deserves a chance and should not be automatically euthanized simply because they were used in dog fighting. 

For more on this, read Animal Law Coalition’s earlier reports below.  

Update: After evaluating the 49 remaining pit bull dogs used by Michael Vick and his cohorts in a dog fighting operation, the ASPCA has concluded attempts should be made to rehabilitate 48 of the 49 dogs.

The ASPCA has said these dogs have potential for placement either in a home or foster home, as law enforcement dogs or in sanctuaries.  It was decided one dog should be euthanized. 

Following the ASPCA’s report, the U.S. Attorney’s office has asked Judge Henry E. Hudson to appoint Professor of Law Rebecca J. Huss from Valparaiso University a guardian or special master to provide interim housing, arrange for spay/neuter of the dogs and make determinations about rehabilitation and placement.

Just a few months ago, Humane Society of the United States ("HSUS") and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals ("PETA") were calling for all of these dogs to be euthanized.  And, typically dogs seized from dog fighting operations are euthanized.  The ASPCA has dispelled the myth that fighting dogs should be written off, destroyed; the ASPCA has demonstrated every dog deserves a chance.  For a look at the amicus brief filed by eleven dog groups in Vick’s criminal case, click here. Dog groups call for tough sentence for Vick including restitution for dogs 

Original Article: In a forfeiture action called "United States of America v. Approximately 53 Pit Bull Dogs" federal prosecutors have asked for an order giving the federal government ownership of the fighting dogs once used by Michael Vick aka Ookie and his cohorts in their dog fighting venture.

The Humane Society of the United States and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals have called for euthanasia of these dogs. They have said the animals cannot be placed in homes. Wayne Pacelle, president of HSUS, pointed out the dogs have been bred for aggression. Other experts have said it is not possible to rehablitate fighting dogs, that even with training, they could snap at any point.

For now, Judge Henry E. Hudson has refused to order forfeiture of the dogs and has put the dogs in the temporary custody of the federal marshals who are responsible for their continuing care.

The dogs were seized in a raid on Vick’s Surry County, Virginia property on April 27, 2007. Authorities found many of the dogs chained to buried car axles; many had visible wounds and were suffering from injuries. The dogs have been in the care of the federal government since then at shelters and kennels in Hanover and Sussex Counties and the cities of Suffolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Hopewell.

One of the costs Vick was ordered to pay when he pleaded guilty on Monday, August 27, is for the care of the dogs since their seizure. A trust account has already been set up. The ASPCA has said that along with BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls), its staff will evaluate the dogs and hope to rehabilitate and place some as law enforcement dogs or otherwise in new homes or sanctuaries. It will be up to Judge Hudson to make the final decision about the dogs’ fate.

The dogs will likely pay the price for Vick’s abject cruelty. These dogs have likely never been free to run and play, to dig or fetch a ball, to nap on the couch. They probably have never known kindness from people. These dogs have been bred for aggression, given steroids and other supplements, and conditioned for fighting with brutal workouts on treadmills and with slat mills. They were kept chained or penned. They warmed up for dog fights by killing bait animals, usually stolen pets, that were thrown into a pit with the fighters. These dogs have been rolled and tested for fighting. Vick has admitted that at least some dogs that didn’t make the grade when tested or which lost a fight, were killed by hanging and drowning and other methods. 

Most dogs seized in dog fighting raids are euthanized.