By Caroline Connolly
SOUTHERN UTAH -- Nearly 50 battered and bruised dogs were rescued from Michael Vick's dog fighting operation in April of 2007, and 22 of them ended up in Southern Utah at Best Friends Animal Society.
Six of the "Vicktory" dogs, who have been placed in adoptive homes, came back for a reunion on Monday.
"The Vicktory Dogs, the dogs from Michael Vick’s kennel, really helped us truly understand that all dogs are individuals," said Judah Batista, the facility’s director of animal care. "To convict the dogs based on their owners is an incredibly unfair thing to do,” he said.
The rescued dogs arrived at the sanctuary with both physical and emotional scars, but their new families say they show little scarring from their past today.
One of the pit bull’s adoptive families can even pinpoint the moment when they knew their pit bull, named Little, finally felt safe again.
"She was running and jumping and playing, and when she finished she came, jumped over one of my other dogs, and landed and turned and sat right in front of me and smiled. And that's when I knew she was comfortable at home,” said her owner, Susan, whose last name has been omitted for privacy.
Batista wanted the event to also serve as a reminder of the historical significance attached to the Vick dog fighting case. He said it was the first time the courts ever allowed dogs confiscated from a fight ring to not only be individually evaluated and rehabilitated, but also to be eligible for adoption.