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Michael Vick dogs: Where are they now?

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Published on Aug 24, 2010

Faith Maloney, Best Friends founder: There are many people watching who may not know the history at the Victory dogs and the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal. Can you tell us some more about them, John Garcia?

John Garcia, Dogtown manager: In January 2008, we received 22 the ex-Michael Vick dogs. We nicknamed them the Vicktory dogs for everything that they've achieved in life and finally going from a very traumatic life to living here at Best Friends and having a great time. This was all part of the Vick dog rehab process. We did get the most difficult dogs deemed by the court system. The dogs are doing amazing, and they're all just really cool dogs.

Ann Allums, dog trainer: Five of them have been adopted and are in their forever homes, and one is in a foster home. Two of them – Squeaker and Oscar – live together and are just best friends – girlfriend and boyfriend. And then another two – Curly and Mia – also live together in an office with a cat. It’s just really sweet to see how far they've come.

Ann: There are two that the court has required to stay at the Sanctuary for their life. That’s Lucas and Meryl. We're working on just keeping them happy and getting them a good quality of life here, and Meryl is one that I worked with especially, and I love seeing the big smile on her face, and knowing that we’re helping in keeping her happy here.

I’ve known Meryl for about two and a half years now, when she arrived at Best Friends, after being rescued from the Michael Vick dogfighting situation. She came in very scared, very shut down, kind of unhealthy too. She was overweight and looked like she’d been bred. And Meryl was one of the dogs featured in season 2 of “DogTown” on the National Geographic Channel.

We were careful with her meeting new people because she had shown a tendency to be defensive or lash out at people when she was afraid, so we really took it slowly and made sure we understood how to introduce people slowly at a level she could be comfortable with. So compared to a couple years ago when we filmed the first episode of Meryl, there's a huge difference.

Faith: And Georgia is one of your particular favorites, I know.

John: Georgia is definitely one of my favorites, yes. I mean she's a great role model. She's done so much for the breed. It’s really cool she's got that sense of adventure that I really like, which I can definitely relate to, and I think she's definitely my type dog.

The Vicktory dogs definitely live it up. I mean, for instance, with Georgia, every single day she gets worked with with the different staff members, everything from different outings, more life experiences, basic obedience. At the same time, there's always boundaries, but there's always a lot of love and fun.

When I first met Georgia, she had a long list of issues, everything from severe dog aggression, which I can't really blame her for given her history, some food aggression, she also had some handling issues, all of which we are able to overcome very quickly, except for the dog aggression. We are still working on that, obviously.

The two hardest things in my opinion to work with are under-socialized dogs and dog-aggressive dogs. Those take the most time.

Georgia has made so much progress. At this point, I can touch every part of her body. She doesn't get offended. Now she has a relationship with people. That was probably one of her biggest issues is she just didn't care about anybody.

When we first started working with her, it was positive reinforcement. We just wanted to show her when she sees a dog, she gets really good stuff. The goal is for her to be able to function in society, so when she's walking down a street, she is not reactive towards any other animals.

Best Friends is dedicated to giving every dog in our care the best life possible, and we are working to find them homes of their very own.

Additional information:

Watch videos from the Best Friends Dogtown Vick dogs playlist. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...

View a video of the Vicktory dogs playing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VAaPF...

Also, visit the Vicktory dog page http://bestfriends.org/The-Sanctuary/... and pitbull initiatives page http://bestfriends.org/What-We-Do/Our... on bestfriends.org.

About Best Friends Animal Society:

Best Friends Animal Society is a national animal welfare organization focused on ending the killing of dogs and cats in America's shelters. An authority and leader in the no-kill movement, Best Friends runs the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for companion animals, as well as lifesaving programs in partnership with rescue groups and shelters across the country.

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