Best Friends Blog
 

Vicktory dog Lucas

There is a big void in Best Friends’ world today. We had to say goodbye to Lucas last night. His declining health over the last year finally overtook him. It’s a very sad day here at the Sanctuary where Lucas was such a prominent and positive personality.

Lucas, for anyone new to the Vick dog/Best Friends story, had at one time been Michael Vick’s grand champion fighting dog. Because of the perceived street value based on his notoriety and underworld status, the federal judge who adjudicated the case and authorized the placement of the Vick dogs with rescues, ruled that Lucas be released to Best Friends with the condition that he never be adopted. Rather, he would have to remain a lifetime care dog at Best Friends.

He was one of the 22 dogs deemed “most challenging” sprung from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels fighting operation in April of 2007 – dogs that the judge would only release to Best Friends. They came to the Sanctuary in January of 2008 following Vick’s trial and the appointment by the court of a guardian/special master to recommend appropriate placement of dogs seized in the initial raid.

It was our privilege to take them and to have the opportunity to demonstrate to the world that the canine victims of fighting operations – even the most damaged of them – could be rehabilitated. The Vicktory dogs, as we called them, have fulfilled our greatest hopes for them. You can read more about them here. Their example was persuasive in changing the prevailing policy for dogs rescued by law enforcement from the scene of fight ring busts.

Before Lucas and the rest of the Vicktory dogs came to Best Friends, the policy on dogs taken from fighting rings was that they be killed. That’s it. That was the policy – rescue them from the bad guys and then kill them. Other than Best Friends’ opposition, that policy was endorsed by the nation’s largest animal welfare organizations. After the Vicktory dogs, those policies and organizational positions changed in favor of every dog being treated and evaluated as an individual.

Ironically, of all the Vicktory dogs, the one who could never be adopted per court order was the most social and well-behaved of them all around people. And that is how Lucas will be remembered around the staff offices where he spent his days. It was a blessing in every way to be around him and to witness his wonderful effect on everyone he met. He changed hearts and minds when it came to people’s views of pit bulls and, in particular, former fighters.

Lucas was bigger than the abuse he had suffered and bigger than his abusers. In fact, they never really touched the real Lucas.

My outer office was on the schedule of staff offices he visited regularly. He would spend a few days at a time on a rotation basis in the care of my assistant and was an official greeter. And he got a little treat from most everyone who came by. He made everyone feel special just by being himself – brutally scarred face and all. He would lick hands and faces and want to jump into everyone’s lap. Lucas loved his ambassadorial role and had the next best life to a permanent home with a loving family.

Just as Lucas embodied an indomitable and gentle spirit, he also embodied the tragedy and abuse that the worst of humanity imposes upon the best of our animal friends. It was never possible to escape the sad reality that behind his heavily scarred muzzle and intimidating reputation of a grand champion fighting dog was a sweet, affectionate, regular dog who wanted nothing more than to be around people – to love and to be loved.

Lucas should have been someone’s pet and been raised in a loving home. His life, however, was stolen by a gang of thugs who thrived on inflicting pain on helpless animals. Yet, he bore not a hint of malice toward people. In fact, he makes the case that it is the characteristic loyalty and desire of dogs to please their people that is manipulated and used against them to get them to fight, which most certainly doubles the crime and abuse of dog fighting.

We estimate that Lucas was about 13 years old when his quality of life deteriorated to the point where his primary caregivers and his veterinarians made the difficult decision to end his suffering. Lucas suffered from a type of Babesia common among fighting dogs; he and many of his fellow Vicktory dogs arrived with the disease, carried by a blood parasite spread through bite wounds.

Babesia is a horrible disease that can be treated, but not cured. He suffered periodic flare-ups that would sap his strength through anemia. That in addition to age-related complications and, just a really hard life, were his undoing. In his final days, a steady stream of caregivers and Best Friends staff visited to bid him farewell. There were many tears and fond recollections.

Lucas was indeed a champion, but his greatest victories were outside the ring. He won our hearts and taught the world about the integrity and depth of character that is a dog.

We will miss you, Lucas … till we meet again.

 

Gregory Castle
CEO
Best Friends Animal Society

P.S. If you’d like to make a gift in Lucas’ memory, click here.

  • Paige Lovelace

    I love you Lucas rest in peace sweet boy you showed the world your spirit and I am so heartbroken to hear you passed!

  • Chantel Cummings

    I’m crying right now, but I am so happy Lucas’s last days were full of love and happiness. Thank you, Best Friends, for taking these poor creatures and returning them to the beautiful souls they were meant to be and for educating the world about pit bulls and fighting dogs. Love you, Lucas!

  • Chantel Cummings

    I’m crying right now, but I am so happy Lucas’s last days were full of love and happiness. Thank you, Best Friends, for taking these poor creatures and returning them to the beautiful souls they were meant to be and for educating the world about pit bulls and fighting dogs. Love you, Lucas!

  • Chantel Cummings

    I’m crying right now, but I am so happy Lucas’s last days were full of love and happiness. Thank you, Best Friends, for taking these poor creatures and returning them to the beautiful souls they were meant to be and for educating the world about pit bulls and fighting dogs. Love you, Lucas!

  • cal

    this story really touches my heart – my thanks to the staff and all of you who loved and took care of Lucas – I sure hope to meet Lucas one day – what an outstanding fella he was – God has a special spot for Lucas ….

    • Rebecca Cowart

      so well said cal, God definitely has a very special place for Lucas..he is victorious!!

  • Lila

    RIP sweet Lucas. You left in the loving arms and thoughts of many. You will never be forgotten.

  • Stacey

    RIP Lucas….I was hoping one day I would of met you but that was not meant to be. I am so happy your life at Best Friends was I am sure the best you ever had …..<3

  • Karen Walsh

    Those eyes & that smile say it all. Lucas was all about unconditional love. He’s very inspiring & will not be forgotten. I keep getting sad & crying, but then remember that he was truly victorious. Despite Vick, Lucas was GOOD Newz. Many thanks and {{hugs}} to all his caregivers & friends who gave him safety & love.

  • Anonymous

    Beautiful blog. The saving of these dogs touched so many people. I can never thank all the people involved enough who fought to save these dogs, worked tirelessly to give them all good lives and to those people who continued the process of compassion by adopting some of these dogs and giving them wonderful lives and sharing the dogs happy endings with us on a daily basis. I really wish I could have met this incredible dog called Lucas along with all the other dogs from this story. Maybe someday If I am lucky. But thanks to all of you for keeping us updated on their progress and the world is a lesser place without Lucas and all the other victims who have already passed on and only enriched people’s lives with unconditional love. These dogs don’t want to fight and will only enrich people’s lives if given a chance. RIP sweet Lucas. What a wonderful legacy of unconditional love that you left us all.

  • Mickey Neill

    So touching, shows the real character of dog. My heart goes out to all of you who loved and lost,

  • Keri

    Thank you for all you did for him and for what you do for others

  • Keri

    Thank you for all you did for him and for what you do for others

  • Barb

    i’m crying my eyes out. that poor, sweet boy! thank you SO much for giving Lucus the chance to be loved in the way a dog needs to be loved. and thank you even more, for allowing him to show you how much love he could give back. what a wonderful thing you have done. you guys Rock!

  • Barb

    i’m crying my eyes out. that poor, sweet boy! thank you SO much for giving Lucus the chance to be loved in the way a dog needs to be loved. and thank you even more, for allowing him to show you how much love he could give back. what a wonderful thing you have done. you guys Rock!

  • cathy

    I’m sad about the news about Lucas. It brings tears to my heart . I know he had a balanced and a good life with the people at best friends. Thank you for taking him away from a horrible place, to such a beautiful place. You guys are such solid people

  • Patricia Folgar

    tears!!! you will be loved forever sweet lucas!

  • Teresa

    Lucas knew love, Lucas was love and we will hold him in our hearts forever… Never met or touched him in person, but felt him all the same. Blessings to his large family at Best Friends…he had the biggest home ever!

    • Rebecca Cowart

      so beautifully written Teresa. Lucas was love and showed love. I too never met him but he will also be in my heart forever!

  • caroline

    RIP Lucas..

  • caroline

    RIP Lucas..

  • Jannina Archila

    I cried so much reading this champion of love story, I wish people would understand how loyal this creatures are. I hope one day humans learn to respect them and give them the love and care they deserve, Rest in Peace my boy……

  • Jannina Archila

    I cried so much reading this champion of love story, I wish people would understand how loyal this creatures are. I hope one day humans learn to respect them and give them the love and care they deserve, Rest in Peace my boy……

  • Shanna

    Tears in my eyes. Rest well sweet Lucas. I’m sure his caregivers and everyone at BF that knew him will miss him.

  • Jean Pennie

    Rest in peace, Lucas. God bless you all for the love you gave to Lucas these past years – he did have a family, and you were it.

    • rose

      BF gave Lucas a good family!

    • rose

      BF gave Lucas a good family!

  • Anonymous

    I had the absolute pleasure of meeting and interacting with Lucas during his earlier days at Best Friends. He was all kisses and hugs and “c’mon let’s play” nudges. As Russ says, I have all kinds of emotions about Lucas’ situation – anger at the criminals who abused him and the other dogs, the ultimate respect for the dignity Lucas showed in his life, and affection for the sweet boy I had the priviledge and honor of spending just a short time with a few years ago. I tell everyone about Lucas. And he will live in our hearts forever.

    • Brenda Smith

      HE IS ALWAYS BE IN MY HEART FOREVER. I HAVE ALL DIFFERENT EMOTION ABOUT LUCAS. I AM SO ANGRY THAT HE WAS ABUSE AND USE FOR DOG FIGHT. THEY LET MICHAEL VICK OUT EASY.

  • Russ Mead

    Russ Mead: This is sad news and brings up a thousand emotions. I enjoyed the times I visited with and played with Lucas. I have a portrait of Lucas in my living room. I am angry that dogs like Lucas are used in dog fighting. I am proud of Lucas for defending himself while in the ring. I am sad that Lucas needed to kill dogs just to keep from being killed. I am angry about the sentencing of Vick. I am pleased that the sentencing of Vick included compensation to Lucas (and the other dogs) as victims of a crime in the same light as human victims. I am proud that Best Friends took care of Lucas for these past years. To Lucas, We love you dude…

    • Brenda Smith

      I AGREE WITH YOU RUSS.

      • Carolyn Sheridan

        AMEN!

    • Gayle S

      I also agree w every word you said, Russ !! Amen…

    • Elaine Marino

      I totally agree with you Russ… I hated the fact that the Eagles took in Vick and i am from Philly… but we do have to be grateful that handsome, sweet Lucas was so blessed in his later years.. to have been so loved, so free…. Thank you Best Friends.. I have followed your stories on the Victory Dogs… you all won out.. but back to Lucas…. You, dear Lucas… proved them all wrong..

      Rest in peace…. we will never forget you…