Best Friends Blog

Vicktory dog reunion

As most of the followers of our blog know, in 2008 Best Friends Animal Society took in 22 dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels.

Something very special took place yesterday, March 11, at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary when six of the 22 dogs, who have been adopted, returned to mark five years of freedom. We call them the Vicktory dogs. Cherry, Handsome Dan, Halle, Little Red, Mel, Oscar and their families gathered at Angels Landing at the Sanctuary with staff, volunteers and visitors for what was just like a family reunion.

“We had a fantastic experience being with six of the families who adopted Vicktory dogs and had traveled here with their adopted Vicktory dogs, as well as their other dogs and their children,” says Judah Battista, Best Friends Animal Care director.

There were incredibly touching moments. Each dog has changed their family’s life as profoundly as their own life has changed. Richard (Mel’s dad) has become a very outspoken advocate of pit bulls. Handsome Dan’s family has a rescue group named after him, and they’ve been able to save many more dogs based in part on the public’s interest in Dan. It was wonderful to see all of their fans who showed up (over 150). They were all incredibly sensitive to the dogs’ needs.

“It was clear that the audience felt privileged to be able to meet the dogs and their families,” says Judah. “I know that I did.”

One by one, each of the adoptive families took the stage and shared some of the stories of their dogs. Over and over, we heard how the dogs have come out of their shells. How they have changed from the shy and shutdown dogs they once were.

Cherry joined his parents, Paul and Melissa, on the stage and lay down as if he were completely relaxed. Little Red played with the other dogs and enjoyed belly rubs from her former caregivers. Little Red was there with her mom, Susan, and didn’t even seem to notice the audience. Handsome Dan, who has a harder time in a crowd, sat in his doggie stroller, where he was joined by his three-year-old human sister.

Oscar didn’t join his mom, Rachel, on stage. He’s been in his home for about nine months and is still shy in such a public setting. Rachel mentioned that being connected to all of the other families and seeing how far their dogs have come gives her a glimpse of the dog that Oscar may one day be. Of course she loves him just the way he is.

Dog Care manager Michelle Besmehn says, “It was great for everyone to see how well the dogs are doing. It was a wonderful reminder of what we are all working for.”

John Garcia, who was co-manager of Dogtown with Michelle when the Vicktory dogs arrived five years ago, adds, “The Vicktory dogs have gone on to be amazing ambassadors for this breed and are helping save even more lives, which of course is why we are all here.”

Watch a video of the Vicktory dogs at the Sanctuary:


Gregory Castle
Best Friends Animal Society

  • Gloria

    My husband and I attended the reunion and left with a feeling of satisfaction almost spiritual. God bless the humanity of Best Friends and the adopters of these brave dogs.

  • Sarah Dandelles

    Totally crying at my desk. Thank you for doing all that you do! I know there are terrible things and people in the world, but these animals got away to safety and life, thanks to so many wonderful people. Hooray for the Vicktory dogs!

  • Kathy

    I will never be able to understand the mentality of dog fighting. These precious dogs are in a happy place now thanks to all the wonderful people who have rescued these dogs and those who support them. I would love to be able to hug each dog tightly but I’ll just ask each owner to do that for me!

  • People are ALWAYS the problem and can certainly be the solution. I would hope for stricter laws on dog fighting and very harsh punishments for those that break the laws and are convicted of any kind of animal abuse/neglect.

  • Katrina

    This is so cool! I remember a few of the dogs when I came and volunteered. It is neat to see them so happy!

  • Katrina

    This is so cool! I remember a few of the dogs when I came and volunteered. It is neat to see them so happy!

  • Kathleen Wissenz

    Beautiful! This made me cry happy hears for these wonderful dogs!! May they have many more happy & loving years to come.

  • caw485

    That was cool…thank you for sharing!!!

  • Janelle

    I’m near tears right now, I love reading the updates on the Vicktory dogs. THANK YOU Best Friends… Michelle, John, and the Dogtown team… you gave these Vicktory dogs life again. After reading “The Lost Dogs” I have such an appreciation for your work. Thank you profoundly for giving these and all dogs a chance!

  • ninjacb

    these dogs are angels on this earth and i am forever grateful to best friends for their tireless efforts to free these dogs from the mental and physical torment they endured.

  • Keecia

    Okay, okay I’m a big cry baby! I’m glad to see these beautiful dogs doing so well in their forever homes but I would really like to know how Georgia is doing?

    • Rhonda

      My thoughts exactly regarding Georgia.


  • I can’t get over how brave these beautiful dogs are. To see Cherry and Handsome smiling and relaxing really brings tears to my eyes. Thanks to Best Friends, and thanks to all of the people who, through Facebook, have allowed us to follow their progress 🙂

  • Very very touching. Lorie you are so right. People are the problem Vick should still be in jail. I am so happy for these wonderful dogs and the love and happiness they have now.

  • This is so heartwarming and amazing! I follow a few of the vicktory dogs on facebook, and it has been so wonderful to see them find themselves and grow into the great dogs they were meant to be.

  • suzy

    After watching the video, I’m just out raged that this story didn’t make the new’s but the story of their abuser did….And the fact that he now has 2 more dog’s just make’s me sick to my stomach. I wonder how long it’ll be before Best Friend’s is rescuing more of Vick’s victims.

    • Google “Vicktory Dog Reunion”. The story was all over the news, including a live interview with CNN Head Line News.

  • Someone needs to make Vick watch this!

    • Tanya

      Somehow I don’t think he would care

  • Thank you Best Friends and adopters for helping these frightened, abused dogs find safety and joy in their lives. Heartwarming!

  • Wren

    I love the pit bull dogs, and coming from an horrid situation of only knowing how to kill, or being the dog that is used to breed, or the ones that are used as bait dogs, to come and be a family pet is so awesome. I applaud all of you for taking in these dogs, rehabilitations with them, and then to adoptions and a home where they will never have to be put through that ever again. I love this story. And I wish others would stop blaming the breed of dog for what they became. That is all on those who made them that way. They can be the sweetest dogs ever. They are only dangerous when they are not socialized, and taught to kill. That is the dangerous owners that we should be afraid of, not the breed. I say you are all awesome people who gave them a chance.

  • Erica Pierson

    As I wipe away my happy tears, I just want to Thank “Best Friends” for doing such a remarkable job taking in the vicktory dogs and all the other thousands of dogs that you have rescued and saved!! It just warms my heart to know that there is a place out there that cares so much for our four legged best friends. I don’t know what I would do without my two best friends!! I love them so much! Thank-You again “Best Friends” for everything you do. Your the Best!! I hope some day I can make a trip out there to visit and maybe volunteer some of my time, to a place with so many people with”Big Hearts”.

  • what a heart warming story. Maybe the media should be covering this along with the story about that pos m vick getting another pet (i use that term loosely when it comes to him)

  • what a heart warming story. Maybe the media should be covering this along with the story about that pos m vick getting another pet (i use that term loosely when it comes to him)

  • Steph

    Lovely story! I loved seeing an update on some of the dogs I first “met” on Dogtown. Bring back the show!!! I absolutely loved it!!

    • I agree Steph! I never thought Cherry would be this successful – it’s heartwarming to see the changes. Bring back Dogtown!!

    • emeraldlizard

      I agree, Steph; Dogtown was one of my favorite shows!

    • Rhonda

      I enjoyed the show too and miss it a lot.

  • Lorie

    That made me cry. So thankful that they were rescued, freed and placed into loving homes. Just goes to show that PEOPLE are the problem, not the animals.

  • Anonymous

    A story worth celebrating. So happy for all of you. Very nice video. Thanks to all for all your hard work.