Tuesday, August 7, 2012

{read: The story of Michael Vick's pit bulls} The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant

This story of Michael Vick's pit bulls was tough for me to read. It starts out from the perspective of one of the dogs, and I had to skip those parts in the beginning and skim the rest, which included bloody descriptions of the dog fights, until the book reached the part where the dogs were rescued. I thought things for the dogs would get better, but they were mostly stuck in shelters where they received minimal interaction for months. This further damaged many of them.

For me, the most compelling part was reading how the foster parents, dog rescue groups, and Best Friends Animal Society worked with the dogs to overcome their issues and help them acclimate to the everyday world so that they could be adopted. While some will need to remain at Best Friends sanctuary throughout their lives, they've still made great progress, and their lives are unspeakably better than they would have been otherwise. In fact, at one point the author (a senior editor at Sports Illustrated) says that Vick's dogs weren't very good fighters because he didn't spend enough money to get top-rated dogs, instead choosing to try to pick diamonds in the rough and breed his own champions. However, if the dogs lost, he often tortured and killed them, and those painful deaths likely have been the fate of these dogs.

The book was well-written and Gorant took an even-handed approach to a controversial topic. He did a good job of providing context so the reader understands how pit bulls have become the current demonized dog-of-the-day, following in the footsteps of breeds such as German shepherds, bloodhounds, and Doberman pinschers.

Disclaimer: I bring an animal rescue perspective to this book. I am a volunteer for the Elmbrook Humane Society in Wisconsin and a driver for BRATS, which received a grant from Best Friends. BRATS transports animals from full shelters to rescue groups and shelters that have capacity in Wisconsin.

The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick's Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant (Gotham, 2012)
My rating: 4 stars

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