Making Pets Out of Michael Vick's Dogs

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Forty-seven of the 48 dogs seized in the Michael Vick dogfighting case are being sent to rescue organizations around the country. Joan Sammond, executive director of the Georgia SPCA, took in three.


Joan Sammond is the executive director of The Georgia SPCA, and they're taking in three of Michael Vick's dogs. Usually after a dogfighting case, the dogs don't fare well. They often wind up euthanized.

Hi, Joan. How are you?

Ms. JOAN SAMMOND (Executive Director, SPCA): Good morning. I'm fine.

PESCA: How did you come to take in three of Michael Vick's dogs?

Ms. SAMMOND: Well, we had offered and also friends with Dr. Merck who is the forensic vet who was on the case that did the ballistics when they exhumed the dogs and determined how some of them were killed.

PESCA: Is that them in the background or other dogs?

Ms. SAMMOND: No, those are other dogs. Actually, I've got one of the dogs with me here. I'm feeding him Scooby snacks. He's real quiet, and he's a good boy.

PESCA: What's his personality like?

Ms. SAMMOND: He is just real mellow, and he's a little timid, but he's real friendly and he's big, he's muscular. He's sitting here with his head on my lap because I'm feeding him the Scooby snacks, and he really likes those.

PESCA: Dogs from dogfighting cases, do they usually breakdown into either the aggressive kinds or the ones that, you know, sometimes are bred to be bait essentially?

Ms. SAMMOND: Well, you know, sometimes they - out of this particular case, I know that only one of the 53 that were seized from the property had to be put down because of aggression issues. There are some that have aggression issues or weren't being what we call adoptable, and they'll be living in sanctuary for the rest of their lives. They may have some aggression issues towards other animals.

PESCA: The ones - now on the question of unadoptable. I've covered some of these in New York. I know it's very different from the urban areas to the more rural areas. But in New York where they just don't have the resources, I think the statistics was something like 6,000 dogs are put into essentially the pound and 5,500 of those dogs are euthanized.

Ms. SAMMOND: Right and a lot of them down here are euthanized as well. Most times, they don't get a second chance. When they come out of a situation like that, they're held for evidence and then after the case goes to trial or whatever, they're euthanized.

In this particular case because it was so high-profile, they brought in some people who are very knowledgeable about the breed who did some evaluations and who considered, you know, lot of these dogs were deemed adoptable.

And the three that we took on are going to be fine as pets. You know, we are going to do some extra training with them just to, you know, as a precautionary measures. But these guys are fine and they'll make good pets for somebody one day.

PESCA: The dogs that are going to live in a sanctuary, that are unadoptable, do they get that, I guess, stay of execution because they were high-profile Michael Vick dogs?

Ms. SAMMOND: I think so because usually there's nowhere to house these kind of animals. You know, he did pay restitution on these dogs, and the organization that is taking the 22 that are considered sanctuary dogs, got about $400,000 for those that are unadoptable.

And so they are billing some sort of kennel situation for these guys and I hope that they, you know, they'll also be working with them so that somewhere down the line, some of those dogs may ultimately end up adoptable somewhere. You know, that they're not completely written off.

But the three that we got, they show no signs of, you know, of anything and it gave no reason for anybody to be concerned with, but yet we're still taking extra precautionary measures because of the situation they came out of.

PESCA: And you do extra screening to make sure that no person for the totally wrong reasons like celebrity dogs wants to adopt these specific dogs?

Ms. SAMMOND: Right. What we do is we have a screening process anyway. You fill out an adoption application and when we do bully breeds, we don't have a lot on hand. In general, we usually…

PESCA: Bully breeds like Rottweilers or what's called pit bulls, yeah.

Ms. SAMMOND: Rottweilers, pit bulls, American Staffordshires, those types of dogs. And, you know, we do a little extra with those because of the breed, we want to make sure that they're being adopted for the right reason. And in this particular case, once these dogs are ready to be put on the adoption floor after they've gone through some additional training, which we're just doing is a precautionary thing, they're going to be mixed in to the general population.

And we aren't allowed, we have to sign off on a court order that we can't specifically say, okay…


Ms. SAMMOND: This one is a Michael Vick dog.

PESCA: Got you. Okay. Joan, we do have to leave it there. I want to thank you, Joan Sammond, the executive director of The Georgia SPCA.

Again, thank you Joan.

Ms. SAMMOND: Thank you.

PESCA: Thanks for joining us this hour. This is THE BRYANT PARK PROJECT from NPR News.

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