While Michael Vick celebrates his successes on the football field the dogs who who were his victims struggle to adjust to life.
Vick, who served 21 months in prison for dog fighting, has had a successful year athletically. He has also said he would love to get another dog in the future to show his love and passion for animals.
During a call to the Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, President Barack Obama even expressed gratitude for the team's decision to give Vick a second chance, although he condemns his crimes, according to an article in The Huffington Post.
Some of those involved in trying to give the dogs a second chance feel that people should be giving more thought to the victims of Vick’s crime – the dogs.
Francis Battista, co-founder of Best Friends Animal Society, which is still caring for 16 of the 22 dogs which were deemed adoptable (A total of 47 were confiscated.), said that concern about the animals is absent from the man’s public statements.
“It’s kind of a mixed bag as far as how the dogs are doing,” he said on a blog, where he imagined what he might say if the president called. “After all, these critters were right there when Michael Vick and his friends were body slamming some of their doggie buddies to death and electrocuting, drowning and hanging others. Unlike Mr. Lurie and the NFL, Bad Newz Kennels wasn’t into second chances.”
The court ordered that most of the dogs, based on their behaviour evaluations in 2007, had to earn a Canine Good Citizen certificate before they could be placed in homes. This requires them to demonstrate self-control, sociability and friendliness toward people and other dogs.
Many of the dog fighting survivors suffer from health issues. Some have immune problems which it is thought may be a result of excessive use of steroids. Some have bebesia, a blood parasite which spreads among fighting dogs.
Some of the dogs took part in actual fights while others were bait dogs, who are thrown into the ring with better fighters – sometimes muzzled - to give the stronger dog’s confidence and a taste for blood.
Richard and Sunny Hunter adopted Mel, one of the bait dogs who was afraid to bark, wouldn't show affection, and would spend almost an hour shaking when a new person tried to touch him.
"You could see that Michael Vick went to a lot of trouble to make Mel this way," Richard Hunter told The Los Angeles Times. "When people pet him, I tell them, pet him from under his chin, not over his head. He lives in fear of someone putting their hand over his head."
Battista said that most of the dogs are now social enough to share a run with another dog and some spend time in staff offices so that they can become comfortable in new environments with people coming and going.
The Huffington Post has an online poll asking readers to vote on whether Obama owes the dogs a call.