I'm taking a break from the political scene today to report some good news on the progress of the pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick's dog fighting enterprise.
According to the New York Times, 25 of the dogs are now in foster homes, and 22 remaining dogs are enjoying life at Best Friends Animal Society in Utah. Out of all of these dogs who had been so horrifically abused, only two were people-aggressive (one was euthanized and the other will live out her life at Best Friends). It just goes to show how wrong the stereotypes about pit bulls are, that the vast majority of these dogs are still able to be open and friendly to people.
After the cruelty suffered at the hands of Mr. Vick, who agreed to pay $928,073 for evaluation and care of the dogs, these dogs are finally getting the love and attention they deserve. According to the Times article,
"Here, they live in a 3,700-acre sanctuary that is covered by juniper trees and sagebrush, and surrounded by canyons and red-rock formations. They have food called Canine Caviar, squeaky toys, fluffy beds and four full-time caregivers. The caregiver on the night shift curls up with the dogs for naps."
The progress these dogs have made since being brought to Best Friends is phenomenal. Many started out wary and afraid, but now cover their caretakers' faces with kisses. Others still struggle with post-traumatic stress, such as Meryl, who is the one dog of all of the 22 dogs at Best Friends who is snappish with people, or Georgia, who has some neurotic habits such as barking at her kennel and rubbing her nose until it's raw.
"John Garcia, the assistant dog care manager of Dogtown, which houses about 500 dogs, said pit bulls that are withdrawn or aggressive toward humans break his heart because they are bred to be people-friendly. 'With most of these dogs, even Meryl, their actions are based on fear,' said Mr. Garcia, who communicates with the dogs in soothing baby talk. 'The biggest job we have with these guys is teaching them that it’s O.K. to trust people. It may take months or years, but we’re very stubborn. We won’t give up on them.'"
The picture at the top, which came from the Best Friends site, is of "Little Red," who may have been used as a bait dog for the fighting dogs. Her teeth were filed down and she has a lot of scars. It breaks my heart just to look at her, as she looks so much like our Diva; and interestingly, Diva's front fangs were filed down as well. We will never know any details of Diva's past, but it is clear she has been a lucky dog - as are these dogs, who were rescued from their sad fate.
BAD RAP of the San Francisco Bay Area, another organization involved in the care of the Vick dogs, also has information on their website about the dogs in their charge, which have all been put in foster care:
"The only difference between BAD RAP's 'Vick dogs' and the rest of the dogs in their foster care program is their celebrity. All are now living in volunteer foster homes with other pets and some, with children. Like other BAD RAP dogs, they're receiving basic obedience training and learning house manners. All are neutered and micro-chipped. All have different personalities. We can expect they will be well-mannered, good canine citizens that will blend right in with society. After escaping two certain deaths, they're now destined to be well loved family pets and they'll continue to help break down the stereotypes the breed has suffered."
Despite the payments by Vick, still more money is needed for the support of these dogs, so donations are welcome.