Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Book Review: The Lost Dogs (the Michael Vick dogs), Part Two of Two

­The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption, by Jim Gorant ($26, 2010, 304 pages, Gotham Books)

(Continued from yesterday) “Rescue, Reclamation, Redemption”

The Dogs

The endearing cover photo on both the book and the Sports Illustrated issue is that of one survivor of the Michael Vick Bad Newz Kennel, now with his forever family in Maryland.


Thanks are due to animal law expert Rebecca Huss, a law professor in Indiana, selected to serve as guardian-special master overseeing the disposition of the 40-some dogs who survived. Taking her job seriously, she spent time observing and interacting with the dogs, in several shelters, in order to represent their best future interests. 

Thanks also to forensic veterinarian Dr. Melinda Merck, the ASPCA’s Dr. Randy Lockwood and Dr. Stephen Zawistowski and countless others who were willing to try to save these supposedly vicious fighting dogs (most of whom turned out not to be not at all vicious but rather shy).

Second Chances

Former fighting dogs were given a second chance (while Vick went to prison): they would be spayed or neutered, microchipped, fostered all over the country, then adopted to lucky, deserving families or Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah.

But Not for Vick 

Vick’s plea bargain, admitting guilt to federal charges, included a fund of nearly a million dollars for the future care of the surviving dogs. At sentencing, Vick’s judge told him, “You need to apologize to the millions of young people who looked up to you.” (p.163) Most of his dogs had underperformed in the ring, perhaps because he was fairly new to breeding and training fighting dogs which may have contributed to their subsequent successful careers as pet dogs.

But, . . .

What didn’t I like about The Lost Dogs? Perhaps it could have been titled Lost and Found Dogs. 

I also prefer more citations and fewer typos. And finally, some of the sections were almost too appalling for reading – perhaps a caveat prior to those parts, stating that the next two pages or three paragraphs may be too graphic for some readers: this could allow them to skip over the most offensive of details, yet leaving the flavor in, etched in memory.

DogEvals liked The Lost Dogs!

What did DogEvals like about The Lost Dogs? We found this book to be multi-faceted and exceptionally well-written – a fast read, almost like a novel or mystery. About crime, investigations, law enforcement, and trials. About dog shelters and the people who love and work with dogs. 

But mostly about hope. Parts of the book were written almost from the dog’s point of view. With amazing endings of former fighters passing their Canine Good Citizen tests and some even becoming therapy dogs!

This is a book that I will keep, and keep referring to. 

Changing History

This case also marks the first time that dogs rescued from a large-scale dog fighting ring have been thoroughly evaluated and adopted out and will set a precedent for the future. The lost dogs are lost no more.

Read more about it: For more information about adopting a pit bull, see www.badrap.org or www.ourpack.org (San Francisco), or www.recycledlove.org (Baltimore), organizations that also played a major role in the story.

And to find out what happened to each of the rescued dogs, turn to the back of the book where many happy endings are described!

Next: Wallace and Saving Audie and more about the Vick Dogs. Don’t forget to watch The Champions!

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