The Champions Documentary Shows Life After Michael Vick’s Dog Fighti
Back in August of 2007, former Atlanta Falcons’ quarter back Michael Vick was charged with two felonies involving a dog fighting ring that police found while investigating another crime.
The dog fighting ring, called “Bad Newz Kennels”, had started up back in 2001 (with Vick and three other associates) when Vick was 21. The dog righting ring was full of awful atrocities that were brought to light. The result: Vick served 21 months in prison and two years of in-home confinement for his crime (although some of us wish he was banned from ever owning a dog again), and was also forced to pay almost a million dollars in restitution for the dogs seized from his property.
This particular crime was handled differently by the police, however, because they did not euthanize all the dogs when the case was concluded. Rather, a guardian was given permission to handle the final disposition of the dogs as s/he pleased. Only one of the dogs was euthanized due to severe aggression and the rest of them were deemed suitable for sanctuaries and foster homes.
This where “The Champions” documentary picks up to tell their story. Directed by Darcy Fennett, this is the journey of a group of dogs who were rescued from Vick’s dog-fighting hell. Although the documentary touches on the hardships that they have endured, it is mainly a story about hope, redemption and second chances. Best Friends Animal Society took in 22 dogs that were rescued and rehabilitated them, despite pressures to euthanize them. It was not an easy journey, but one that was made with these dogs’ lives in mind.
“Little” the female Pitbull terrier is a perfect example. She was one of the dogs who were rescued from Vick’s dog-fighting rings and was rehabilitated and has found a loving home. Although she is now a happy aging dog with dutiful owners, her body is covered in scars – a constant reminder of what once was.
This is also a way to educate the public on how Pitbull terriers are not necessarily aggressive by nature, but because they were taught to display such behavior. If they didn’t, they would be killed in the ring or by the people who ran them. And even after all the pain, suffering, and fighting, these Pitbulls were still able to be taught how to play, cuddle, trust and love.
This documentary will be shown at community screenings in 20 cities around the United States. These cities were purposely chosen because of the existing Breed-Discriminatory Legislation, which targets “aggressive” breeds, such as Pitbull or Staffordshire Bull Terriers, for example. If you can’t make it to the screenings, you can download the documentary to see how far these amazing dogs have come despite all the challenges they have overcome.
We hope The Champions makes it to the Oscars next year – this film certainly deserves it! See for yourself and watch the trailer for the film down below.
More by Diana Faria