Disgraced NFL quarterback Michael Vick is getting a chance at a new life, after serving federal prison time for dog-fighting.
Fortunately, some of his victims also got new lives, including one who ended up in Minnesota.
His name is Hector and he's turned out to be an irresistible pit bull.
Andrew Yori holds Hector, a 50 pound pitbull, like a baby and kisses him repeatedly. It's not, perhaps, the image that comes to mind when one thinks of a pitbull.
But this is Hector's life now, two years later and many miles away from the life he lived at Michael Vick's compound in Virginia.
"I think these dogs have a story to tell themselves and i'm just glad that I'm able to get him out and let him talk for himself," said Yori.
Yori owns another pitbull, named Wallace, that's made quite a name for himself as a disc dog.
He, too, is a rescue, slated to be euthanized at a shelter, but Yori gave him a new life too. That made it much easier for him to adopt Hector from Badrap, a non-profit pitbull rescue group in San Francisco that was very involved in helping the victims of Vick's crimes.
"He just basically had to learn how to be a dog or a typical house dog," said Yori.
Hector lives with Wallace and four other rescue dogs and has flourished amidst the love and respect he enjoys now. It has allowed his natural personality to stand out beyond his scars from dog-fighting.
"His favorite thing would probably be to explore new things," said Yori. "He was nicknamed 'Hector the Inspector' and for good reason. He just loves to explore things and loves to meet new people."
Hector has been living with Yori for a little more than a year and is not only well-adjusted, but in February became certified as a therapy dog.
"The test is based on temperament, personality, training and they go through a number of situations," Yori recalled.
He said Therapy Dog International certified Hector to go into hospitals and nursing homes to cheer up those in need of some canine companionship. Yori says he's proved he's ready for almost anything.
"They test him around other dogs, other people. They kinda create a situation like I would go into a nursing home visit and if things got out of hand, people started yelling and screaming and stuff like that, he just stood there wagging his tail," he said.
Yori guesses Hector is about four years old and was likely used as a stud dog for Vick's dogfighting rings. He was one of 49 pitbulls rescued in 2007 to be given another chance at life. Yori believes, however, it is too soon for Vick to be getting a second chance.
"I'm still not convinced that he's sorry for what he did, though. And I'm still more convinced that he's just sorry for getting caught," said Yori. "All emotions aside, the best thing that could come out of it would be for him to truly regret what he did, redeem himself and then to advocate for the really misunderstood dogs that he once abused."
Two of the 49 dogs rescued from Vick's compound didn't make it. One was euthanized because of personality issues, the other put down because of terrible health conditions.
Several were not able to be adopted out to the public, but will live out their lives in a sanctuary. To learn more about the Vick dogs, go to www.badrap.org.
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