“The Champions” should be required viewing for anyone who works, loves, or comes in contact with dogs in any way. So basically, everyone. I saw it last night at a special screening hosted by City Dogs Cleveland and Best Friends Animal Society and was once again blown away by the story of the aftermath of the dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring.
Although the movie focuses on the Vicktory dogs, it’s really the story of how wrong the misconceptions about pit bulls are. The movie shares the stories of the dogs who were adopted and how they recovered from the horrible abuse they endured. Many were severely scarred, physically and emotionally, but for most of them the damage made them fearful, not dangerous. As one of the women who adopted a Vicktory dog said, “They didn’t need to be rehabilitated, they needed to recover.” If you needed any more proof that most dogs do not want to fight or hurt others, the story of these dogs should be all the proof you need. Enduring dog fighting made them fear people in some cases, but it did not make them want to inflict pain on others. Many of the dogs moved on to become therapy dogs and lead normal lives as family pets with other dogs and kids.
The story of these dogs is remarkable in so many ways, but especially because it was the first time that rescuers were able to show that dogs from this type of situation could be rehabilitated and become family dogs. Since then, dogs rescued from fighting rings are looked at differently and not just immediately killed (no thanks to awful organizations like PETA, who wanted to immediately put all of the dogs down).
I highly recommend this movie. Best Friends Animal Society has made it available for download on their website: http://bestfriends.org/champions?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=slider
If you’re interested in the story of the Vicktory dogs, you should also check out the book, “The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption” by Jim Gorant, as it goes into a little more detail on many of the dog’s stories.
I really wish we could sit the Lakewood, Garfield Heights, Parma and Warrensville Heights City Councils down and show them this movie. Breed Specific Legislation is a fantasy and all it is doing is killing pit bulls. It breaks my heart that innocent dogs are dying because of this law. It’s time for people to wake up and realize that each dog is an individual and they should all have a fair shot.
Photos courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society