Best Friends Blog

A farewell to Tug, the Vicktory dog

Tug, the Vicktory dogI am deeply saddened to be the bearer of the news that Tug, one of the dogs who thrived at Best Friends after being rescued from the property of Michael Vick, has passed away. Like many dogs rescued from fighting cases, Tug suffered from the blood disease babesia, and the toll on his body from the parasite was just too much. He was humanely euthanized this afternoon, surrounded by many of the caregivers and friends he had come to know over his years in the safety of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Tug was a dog who loved to be hugged. Bow-legged and friendly, he had an unforgettable welcome dance. Despite all he’d been through, he was a sensationally happy dog who loved golf cart rides and spending time with his friends. We’re so glad that a dog who had been through so much had a wonderful life in the end. He will be sorely missed.

It’s quite remarkable to think that the investigation into Bad Newz Kennels began more than nine years ago. The youngest of the Vicktory dogs, as they came to be known for their triumphant spirits, is now nine years old, and we’ve had to say goodbye to a few. Babesia has been one of the causes.

Babesia is a terrible disease. It is passed through blood, and is therefore more prevalent among fighting dogs. (Many of the Vicktory dogs, including Lucas, suffered from it.) It’s a stubborn disease that presents itself differently from dog to dog. Babesia can be managed but not cured, and it was not something our medical staff had encountered very often until the Vicktory dogs. Since then, we’ve learned a lot about how to manage it, but the complications and recurring flare-ups, combined with age, were just too much for Tug to handle.

Tug, the Vicktory dog, with McKenzieWe know how important the story of the Vicktory dogs has been for dogs rescued from fighting rings everywhere. As documented in the film The Champions, these dogs have forever changed the perception of pit-bull-terrier-like dogs in general, as well as dogs specifically from dogfighting cases. Everyone at Best Friends will be forever changed from having known this particular group of dogs, and when it comes to Tug, I asked some of our staff who knew him best to share their memories.

“Tug was just always the special one. He was loved by everyone and he didn’t have to do anything special for that, but just be ‘The Tug.’ He would dance for us at his gate with his bow-legged front legs. He had obsessive-compulsive quirks, like laying his tongue on a pole, like the kid in Christmas Story, and just look at us with his tongue on the pole. When you went into his room and sat with him, he was content to just sit on your lap. The world just stood still when you were sitting with The Tug. Nothing else mattered. He had a heart that wouldn’t stop and I loved him with all my heart.”
– Terry Tate, Dogtown caregiver

“Tug was an easy dog to fall for. He was always so happy to see you. He was up for anything. He was happy going for a walk, going for a ride in the car or the golf cart, or just cuddling in his room. Basically he was just a happy dog. It’s amazing that he could come from such circumstances and still remain the biggest love. Tug had a great life here and I only knew him to be happy and loving. Today when we had to say our goodbyes, the room was full of people who’ve known Tug for years and people who have only known him for a short time. He was surrounded by love. Angel Lodges will not be the same without him.”
– Julie Tasch, Dogtown team leader

Tug, the Vicktory dog

“Tug was an amazing boy. He tried so hard to pretend that he was a tough guy, but as soon as he was out of his room, he was a melty pile of mush! He loved his caregivers so very much. It was his trust of them that allowed us to care for him medically. I will always remember him barking his meaty head off at me from his room, then him being taken out and spinning between my legs so his whole body could be enveloped by me in the most awkward of hugs. He was the best. There are no words to describe the hole his passing leaves in our lives.”
– Betsy Kidder, veterinary technician

Rest in peace, Tug.

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Gregory Castle
CEO Best Friends Animal Society

  • Judy Jackson

    Run free handsome boy. RIP.

  • Pingback: Vicktory Dog Who Loved Hugs And Golf Cart Rides Has Passed Away –

  • Jill Tinsley

    Beautiful tribute to a dog that was truly loved by an amazing group of people. I love how you describe his positive happy spirit even though he had been through so much in his early life. I believe we can all learn so much from these sentient beings in that we can & should let the past go, live in the present and celebrate each and every happy moment with those that love you. Thank you for giving Tug so many happy & beautiful moments for him to know while on here on earth. And now, may he celebrate all that love he learned over the rainbow bridge with his other animal, human friends.?

  • Allene Helmick

    I’m sorry for your loss, but happy he had some happy years, God bless you for saving, loving and not giving up on this baby

  • Ro Smith

    RIP Precious Tug ~ your sweet pawprints touched many hearts ~ run free on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge ???

  • Linda Layton Conrad

    RIP Tug….you found love and ‘furever’ at Best Friends. You finally got to be ‘a dog’….you will be a part of our hearts forever <3

  • Nikki G

    Lots of prayers being sent. Thank you for believing in Tug and the rest of the Vicktory dogs.

  • Cherry Jones

    Said hello to Tug Christmas ’14 when I adopted Norton. Sympathy to all of Tug’s caregivers and friends. RIP, Tug. Run free.

  • Kathy Kisela

    This breaks my heart. Thank you for taking care of this special boy! RIP Tug!

  • ziggypop

    I am so sorry to read about the “Tug”. Thank you all, so very much, for opening your doors and your hearts to all the four legged souls.

  • Vanessa Vailasi

    RIP beautiful boy, I’m so sorry to hear of Tug’s passing? I loved Dogtown
    Series and always kept up with the Viktory dogs and I’m so glad they found their forever home at Best Friends… I wish I’d met him but I’m crying like I knew him as I know he was family… My heartfelt condolences ? Rest In Peace & Joy Tug… ❤️ Vanessa from Sydney, Australia

  • bicwood

    Tug is one more example of how wonderful dogs are. Even dogs that have been through the hell of a place like the Vick fighting kennels still have that special inner dog thing that allows them to love us. Tug’s story is also another of example of how special Best Friends and the people there are. You not only save the Tugs, you provide the example and inspiration for many, many other people across the country. Thank you.

  • Patricia Campodonic


  • Shannon Landers

    My heart goes out to all the wonderful caregivers. You so generously gave and give love and hope to Tug and his doggy brethren. Thank you so much for all you do.

  • Jeanne Modesitt

    Tug was a dog that would always lift your heart. And make you laugh. He was a mischievous boy, who adored his caregivers.
    Tug, I am going to donate to a pit bull rescue group in your name. It is the least I can do to honor your beautiful spirit. You will always be loved, sweet boy.

  • Janice

    Very sad news indeed. Run free from pain and rest peacefully beautiful boy. Your life mattered so very much.

  • Patti Lindh

    Tug – I know that you are no longer suffering from that dreaded disease Babesia. You will be missed so very much. What a happy boy to be around. You always made me smile. Taking care of you was so easy. RIP my little man. You are so special!!

  • Mary Ann Markowitz O’Donnell

    Such sad news. Condolences to Tug’s caregivers. You are all truly dedicated, compassionate people who gave Tug the affection and safe environment he so needed and deserved. Thank you for turning his life around, and giving him the chance to learn that humans can be loving protectors.

  • Kathi

    I’ll miss seeing you in September, sweet Tug…I am so happy you were loved by so many like you were… <3

  • Tessie

    Another casualty due to a monster. I’m so glad this pup had the time he did with you to be able to experience real love, companionship and friendship….he was a beautiful dog, probably gone too early due to his past. Thank you again and may God watch over all of you for all you do.

  • Heidi Myers

    I am so sorry to hear about Tuggie’s passing. I will never forget the time I tried to take him on a sleepover at the cabins. Whee we got there he was so stressed and sat in front of the door just staring at it and then staring at me, telling me he wanted to get back to his home at the Lodges. When we got back there he ran back to his lodge. Best Friends and all his caregivers was his home and he was happy there. Rest in peace, sweet boy and run with the Angels ?

  • Amanda Craft

    Thanks for giving him the love and care he was always meant to have. Terry, thank you for letting me spend some time with him during All Staff. It was a highlight of my trip. Thinking of all of you. -Amanda Craft

  • Janet on Cape Cod

    He looks like Handsome Dan. Could they be related?

    • Mary Jane Washburn

      I was thinking the same thing!

      • Melissa Miller

        It’s possible, Janet and Mary! Many of the dogs that were seized from the compound were related.

        Thank you for your support!

        Melissa Miller
        Manager, Social Content and Communities

  • joanneeck

    RIP Tug. You were a warrior in the best sense.

    • Jenna

      Im crying because im sad and because I feel so much hate in my heart for that monster Michael Vick every time he goes on the field I pray that he’s going to break an arm a leg and suffer little by little like you made these beautiful dogs suffer as far as the comments that he looks like handsome than he absolutely does and I think they were related rest in peace beautiful boy I know God’s got a hold of you now and he is loving every minute he spending with you

      • Steve Jakobs

        You’re far too kind. I wish alot worse for that cock sucker.

  • webster10

    Thanks for taking care of Tug and all the Vicktory dogs and animals that either don’t have another place to get love and care or are waiting for that. The Vicktory dogs changed so many lives all over the world thanks to you and all the people involved with saving them from what society had in store for them 9 years ago.