Best Friends Blog

When the President Calls About the Vick Dogs

Now that President Obama has jumped on the Michael Vick bandwagon with an official call to Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie to congratulate him for giving the quarterback another chance, all of us here at Best Friends are waiting for a call from the White House to congratulate us for giving Vick’s dogs a second chance. I’m quite sure that the other organizations that also took on some of the canine survivors of the football star’s dogfighting operation are similarly poised.

The conventional wisdom on this is that the president’s people have put their finger to the wind and decided that Michael Vick has been sanitized for political consumption by his success. (It’s interesting to speculate how he would be perceived if he were having a lousy year.) Personally, I’m kind of tired of hearing and reading about Michael Vick and wish that the media would lose its obsession with the man, especially since any mention of or concern about the dogs who managed to escape with their lives from his care is conspicuously absent from his public statements.

While we no longer wait by the phone for a call from Mr. Vick asking after his dogs, the likelihood of a call from the president has brought new esprit to the switchboard team and I’ve put together some notes on those we call the Vicktory dogs in case someone puts the historic call through to me by mistake. The conversation will go something like this:

“Mr. President, what a surprise! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to commend us for giving the Vicktory dogs a second chance. Sure, I’ve got a few minutes to fill you in … kind of a presidential briefing, I guess.

“To be quite honest, sir, it’s kind of a mixed bag as far as how the dogs are doing. 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. What’s that, sir? Yes, he’s having a great year … yeah, a terrific arm.

“So, as I was saying, it’s a mixed bag on the dogs, though some are doing very well, all things considered. Handsome Dan, Cherry, Mel, Oliver and Halle have all been adopted and some of these guys were pretty shut down, you know, terrified when they arrived here. Mel was mentioned in Bill Plaschke’s article in the L.A. Times about Michael Vick … yeah, he interviewed Mel’s new family in Texas. Poor dog still shakes in a corner whenever a new person comes to the house, but he’s in a great home and that’s what counts.

“What’s that, sir? Sure, we want them all to be adopted and live in homes with a nice family, but unlike Mr. Vick, the court has ordered that most of the dogs, based on their behavior evaluations back in 2007, have to pass a good citizen test before they can be adopted. No, I’m serious. It’s called a Canine Good Citizen certificate, CGC, and it means that the dogs are able to demonstrate self-control, sociability and friendliness toward people and other dogs. Actually, it’s quite an accomplishment for a dog who was encouraged to be aggressive or maybe was used as a bait dog. Sir? Oh, a bait dog is a relatively non-aggressive dog who gets thrown into the ring with a stronger fighter just to give the stronger dog confidence and a taste for blood. That’s right, sir, kinda like a press secretary.

“Anyway, 16 dogs are still at the Sanctuary: Mya, Shadow, Lucas, Layla, Willie Boy, Georgia, Meryl, Ellen, Tug, Denzel, Ray, Squeaker, Lance, Curly, Little Red and Oscar. And they get a lot of attention. Most of them have health issues; some have bebesia, a blood parasite that spreads among fighting dogs and flares up occasionally. Some have immune problems that we speculate came from excessive use of steroids, but they continue to make progress.

“Ray, who was really shy and dog-reactive when he arrived, has earned his CGC. Oscar got his CGC and Shadow has made such great progress that he has a potential adopter coming to meet him next week. We’re very pleased. Most of the dogs are now social enough to share a run with another dog and some spend a few days a week in staff offices, getting comfortable in new environments with people coming and going. Yes, I guess it is a bit like the new Congress, except that most of the dogs would never bite you and I doubt that Congress people are able to share a run, um, I mean, an office.  

“Why do we do all this for these dogs? Well, Mr. President, that’s a big question but I’ll try to keep it short. First of all, we don’t believe that killing the Vick dogs, which many people and even some animal organizations wanted to do, would have been right. We know that they are individuals with the potential to have rewarding lives. They were like child soldiers kidnapped by warlords and forced to fight; no one thinks child soldiers should be killed just because they are damaged. Same thing applies here. Also, the Vicktory dogs are victims of a crime. As long as they are struggling to regain even a semblance of the life that should have been theirs from birth, then that crime continues to affect lives, dog and human, and is not yet a thing of the past, regardless of Michael Vick’s jail time or talent. You’re right, sir, it’s not funny and I’d hate to think of Bo in that situation, too.

“Of course, no worries! I’ve got a pretty busy day as well. Nothing like yours, but thanks for calling and please pass along a Happy New Year to Michelle, the girls and Bo from all the animals and staff here at Best Friends…. Oh, just one more thing: I think it would be a great message to send if you adopted a shelter dog as a companion for Bo, maybe a cute pittie girl with a big smile and wiggly butt. Sure, we can set you up. Call anytime — you’ve got the number. And a good day to you, too, Mr. President.”

Francis Battista

Co-Founder, Best Friends Animal Society

  • Justyna

    Lost all respect for “Nobama” after the statement came out. I hope he losses a lot of votes from the animal community in the next election! Thank you Best Friends for doing all u do!

    • Michelletrousil

      I think it shows he is elitist – more concerned with celebrity than helping those in need! He needs to go to the Sanctuary and witness the trauma for himself instead of staying in his ivory tower!

      • Nancy

        “Elitist”? Because he’s educated?

  • Bethasmom

    AMEN!!! The PERFECT words put PERFECTLY!!!
    Thank YOU ALL for everything you have done and will continue to do for these helpless animals rescued from a sadist…a sadist who “earned” a call from the President of the United States…..

  • EmilyS

    fantastic, Francis…. You must have been really angry (and rightly so). I’ve never read anything of yours so “snarky”.

  • Deb

    I agree and I’m sooo sick of hearing about what a “great” guy Vick is. Just because he can play football doesn’t mean he’s the kind of guy we should be putting up on that pedestal as a an upstanding member of society. As far as I’m concerned, as well as the dogs, he hasn’t even come close to paying for his crimes…and the President is the last person that should be singing his praises. Our society will never improve as long as criminals like that are made out to be heroes.

  • Carol

    Great Blog!!!! Kudos to you!

  • Unfortunately, a large majority of people (not I) would rather just forget things happened and “get on” with life in these sort of cases. The real issues and tragedies at hand are always glossed over given enough time.

    I remember hearing some people that were Vick fans talking about how “Enough is enough, I mean hell, it’s just DOGS we’re talking about here. He didn’t kill anyone.”

    It goes to show how short sighted and shallow some people can be in their ideology of how things happen, and WHAT exactly happened to these dogs. And what happened, is happening, and what will inevitably happen to many other dogs not “fortunate” enough to benefit from a high profile exposure case like what happened with Vick and Bad News Kennels.

    But I concur with all that you’ve said above. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one still upset about what happened so long ago, and that for some, especially the victimized dogs in this case,… it never really ended.

    Because it’s not the scars we can see ON them that hurt them the worst.

  • Giovanna911

    We could only hope that he would call but don’t hold your breath. If he did and you were able to say to him what you wrote, that would be so awesome! Keep up the good work and the great articles AND Thank You for everything that you do for these animals. You are truly God’s Angels!

  • Nancyaccinno


  • Kallie


  • Sairac

    This is one of my favorite posts. Thanks so much for sticking with what you believe in. I can’t wait to come back and volunteer (3 times so far!).

  • Lynnanne17

    This is a wonderful article. Too bad it can’t get to Mr. Obama. Vick should have suffered the way these dogs had to suffer instead he has been rewarded. Truly makes me sick!!!

  • Superb!

  • Junebeetle57

    I don’t even want to get into my feelings about this…suffice it to say, I don’t feel that Vick has paid his debt to society, and I don’t think that the NFL should allow him ever to step on the field or put on a uniform

    • Gabriel

      this exactly. vick should be banned from the money-hungry NFL. it’s a disgusting reflection of how immoral and greedy the NFL is and how americans don’t care about right from wrong as long as their NFL team is kicking ass.

      • humanvictoryindeed

        “and how americans don’t care about right from wrong as long as their NFL team is kicking ass.”

        You’re putting all Americans into one group… generalizing. So wrong on so many levels. I’m an American and I so don’t belong in that group. At all.

  • Kjtobin

    It is interesting how the President is more concerned about sports in the US than the safety and well being of animals. Very Interesting!

  • Julie Balog

    Fantastic article….

  • Blingmeupscotty

    Great article! I hope the President gets the message! Thanks for all the hard work and for saving these dogs!

  • Kelly

    This made me get choked up. The Vicktory dogs will always have a special place in my heart. It makes me sick to think people are looking past what he did to these creatures. We wouldn’t forgive the Ted Bundy’s but yet we make a sports hero out of him. Shame on you Mr. President. I don’t forgive Vick and I never will.

  • lindy11

    Never thought I would lose respect or confidence in Obama…but this did it. Here’s hoping Vick isn’t allowed to get a dog , “Because his daughters want one and it would be good for his rehab” I pray someone see’s through this pack of lies and bans him for life. Thank you Best Friends for ALL you do and all the love and care you give.

    • Blakmira

      Obama has broken every promise he ever made — about the wars, Guantanamo, not filling the WH with lobbyists, etc., and he’s totally in bed with the bankers, Goldman Sachs, big oil and big pharma. He again reauthorized the unConstitutional Patriot Act and the outrageous Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act of 2006.

      What made you think he ever gave a damn about you or animals? His wonderful speeches? Thank God you’ve awoken from the hypnosis and Welcome to the Real World.

    • Mom 2308

      Personally I don’t care if his daughters want one or not…they can go visit the animal shelter if they want to love on a puppy for a while…they should be just as amd and disappointed at him as the rest of us and if he thinks it is unfair to “punish” his children like that then he should have thought about that before he did what all he did to ALL those dogs. That has to be the biggest wasn’t just one isolated incident we are talking multiple dogs beaten with his own hands..sick sick sick

  • Yjlwyhc

    I love this and I love Best Friends Animal Sanctuary AND FRANCIS BATTISTA!

  • Mym100

    How can we pass this along to the White House? And maybe to Mr. Lurie? If enough of us would do that, someone is bound to see it eventually and pass it on to the President.

  • Kj Mchouser

    This is an awesome blog post- it pretty much made my day!

  • Tilie

    I love you for doing this Francis Battista . . . Someone had to say something. Thank you for standing up and saying what so many of us wanted to say but might not have put so eloquently.

  • Lizziebugsmom

    I am writing a letter to the President this weekend to suggest that he do this. I was appalled when I saw that he had made that call about Michael Vick

    • lindy11

      let me know the address and I will write a letter too!!

      • Ms. MM

        Google it and I guarantee it’ll be there somewhere.

      • DGG Pet Training

        Go to You can e-mail there and the mailing address is posted.

        • lindy11

          Thank you!

        • We should just all send copies of this letter. Over and over and over.

          • Susan

            I tried to copy and paste the letter to no avail, so I forwarded the link! LOL I doubt he’ll actually read it, but at least I tried!! I too am appalled that anyone would applaud Michael Vick for anything at all…

      • Rinob76
      • Diane

        i would like the address also

      • Ritheu

        If you want to let the White House know directly of your disgust with the President’s statements on Michael Vick (and I select that term carefully), you may complete an online comment form at .

        The best thing to do, however, is to telephone the White House and you will be rolled over (during regular business hours) to a live person (they don’t use voice mail), 202-456-1111. The comment line for those who are hearing impaired is 202-456-6213.

        Of course, if you want to write a letter the mailing address is:

        The White House
        1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
        Washington, DC 20500
        Please include your e-mail address

      • Jamestown

        See Metric12113’s post with email, regular mail, and phone number info. And it’s a great post, too–do please write and call!

  • Jodiwendling

    This is great I luv it! Hopefully it makes it to the president himself.

  • Roberta Gottieb

    Right on! It makes me sick every time I see Vick playing football when I’m scrolling through the channels for something worthwhile to watch. Still don’t get why the league would want to be associated with an animal abuser.

    • Giovanna911

      I don’t understand it either but I watch him play hoping to see him get sacked and I imagine everytime he does it’s because the other player is punishing him more for what he did t those animals and not becaus of the game:)