Animals

10 Years Later: Michael Vick's Dog Fighting Survivors Have Found Forever Homes

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Amanda Best

Back in April 2007, a Virginia house owned by former NFL player Michael Vick was raided during a drug investigation and it led to the discovery of dozens of emaciated and injured dogs.

SFGate

All evidence pointed to a dogfighting ring and in July of the same year, the football player and several others were charged with operating an illegal interstate dogfighting business called "Bad Newz Kennels." Vick served 23-months in prison, 3 years of probation and lost tens of millions of dollars.

GQ

Some organizations like PETA and The Humane Society of the U.S. along with a few members of the public argued that Vick's traumatized dogs were beyond rehabilitation and they should be put down to end their "suffering once and for all." However, the athlete was ordered by a judge to pay over $900,000 for the treatment and care of the dogs, a decision which kept 47 out of 51 dogs alive.

10 years after the bust, Jim Gorant, a Sports Illustrated writer took it upon himself to follow up on the lives of the canines rescued from former the Philadelphia Eagles' property. These are innocent dogs that were forced into extreme conditions, but they managed to overcome it all. Gorant compiled their stories in his new book Found Dogs and here are some of them:

1. Jhumpa

Kathleen Pierce

Jhumpa was living in a government shelter after her rescue, but was later adopted by Kathleen Pierce. She worked as a therapy dog for a short while and visited schools to raise awareness about animal welfare before retiring. She now spends her days playing, sneaking treats and napping.

"She's become just a dog to me, which is what I always dreamed of. But seeing the gray in her muzzle, it has reminded me of how incredible the journey has been and how important her voice has been," Pierce said.

2. Ernie

Sasha Best

"He's the same dog he was when we got him," said Ernie's foster parent, Sasha Best. "Sweet and sensitive, a big wonderful goofball."

Ernie got along with Best's family which at one point included two cats and another pit bull mix. He's a lot older now but he still loves to hike on weekends and never turns down a belly rub.

3. Jonny Justice

Chris Cohen and Jen Long

Since his rescue, the black and white pitbull has experienced maladies which required him to undergo multiple surgeries, but Jonny's survival spirit cannot be broken. He won the title for Gund's Most Beautiful Dog in 2012 and in 2014, he won ASPCA's Dog of the Year. Since 2015, sweet Jonny has been a volunteer at the San Francisco library's children's section.

Click on the next page to read about the remaining "Vicktory Dogs."

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