What happened to Michael Vick’s dog-fighting dogs? ‘Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel’ finds out

Originally posted Monday, October 21, 2019 by RODNEY HO/rho@ajc.com on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

It has been 12 years since former Atlanta Falcon quarterback Michael Vick pled guilty to running an illegal dog-fighting ring in Virginia, news that reverberated nationwide and led him to a prison sentence of 548 days.

Authorities rounded up 51 pitbulls in various states of trauma from his Bad Newz Kennel compound. While it was standard practice for such dogs to be put down under these types of circumstances, animal sanctuaries offered to try to rehabilitate them instead.

Good news: 47 of those dogs were put in homes and many are still alive.

At 10 p.m. Tuesday, "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel" on HBO will air Jon Frankel's 15-minute report on how those dogs fared and what changes have been put in place regarding treatment of such pitbulls since then.

Frankel spent  ime with a couple of families who owned Vick dogs, visited Vick's former dog-fighting compound (now cheekily dubbed the Good Newz Rehab Center) and checked in on Best Friends Animal Society in Utah where 22 of the dogs were rehabilitated. He also showed graphic footage of actual dogfighting.

“It was to underscore the narrative point and dramatic turn they’ve taken in their lives,” said Frankel, a correspondent for “Real Sports” since 2006 and owner of a 34-pound Goldendoodle named Biggie Smalls.

Vick, now a Fox Sports analyst, himself is shown briefly in news clips and in a single photo. He declined to be interviewed, having said a lot about this in the past apologizing for his actions and advocating for the end to dogfighting.

“I don’t think it matters,” Frankel said. “I never saw the story being about him. Even those in dog circles say, ‘Why do we need to even talk about him?’”

Sadly, dogfighting is still prevalent in the United States, Frankel said.

But the positive results from Vick’s dogs has caused humane societies to change their tune of pitbulls caught in these dogfighting rings. They are now treated as victims to be rehabilitated, not evidence to be discarded as too dangerous.

“MIchael Vick’s dogs are paying it forward, saving the lives of thousands of others,” Frankel said.


“Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel,” 10 p.m. Tuesdays, HBO

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