Michael Vick dogs and 'retraining'

What a bunch crap.
I heard on the news the other day that some of the dogs that were used in the dog fighting mess that Michael Vick was involved in are going to be ‘retrained’ and given to a nice home.

This is a perfect example of perpetuating a huge myth. There are thousands, if not millions of dogs euthanized every month by overcrowded pet shelters; yet somewhere some bureaucrat want to show how humane he is rather than show the system for what it really is. “Oh look we’ve retrained these dogs that had a ‘killer’ instinct bred into them.”

Those dogs should have been put down. There are a LOT better candidates that could have been rescued.


I totally agree. Dogs for fighting are fighers both by training and by genetics: just like some dogs are bred to enjoy retrieving, and some dogs are bred to enjoy herding, some dogs are bred to enjoy fighting. A “retrained” dog may have a much lower chance of freaking out and killing a beloved pet–or child–than an unretrained dog; but it’s still a far greater chance than you’d get from one of the million or so dogs that are euthanized each year due to overpopulation. This is sentimental nonsense from people who don’t understand what’s going on with dogs in our country.


In Detroit if they rescue a pit bull they put it down. There is so much dog fighting going on they just don’t want to deal with the problems.

The shelter I worked for didn’t automatically euthanize pit bulls; they based it on the dog’s temperament. Dogfighters, we figured, were really unlikely to adopt from an animal shelter, given the amount of data we collected from them and the fact that we shared a database with animal control.


That is what the representative of the Humane Society said on TV last year.

This is an oversimplification of the process used to determine the fate of these dogs. A special advocate was appointed to ensure the best outcome for all involved. Two organizations that I have quite a bit of respect for took the majority of dogs(Best Friends in Kenab UT and Bad Rap of San Francisco), the remainder sent to organizations willing to find appropriate homes for them.

From the Bad Rap site

I do encourage you to read more about the Vick dogs before deciding.

Best Friends
Bad Rap

I still think it’s a bad idea. Fighting dogs aren’t dangerous just because of their temperment or training. It’s a matter of musculature.

If a bird dog gets angry, s/he might break the skin, while a happy Rottweiller who’s just playing too rough might break your arm. Well, ok, that’s a cruel exaggeration.

Still, dogs trained for fighting usually have really strong jaws, and no amount of re-training makes them appropriate for families.

(And, yeah, it does annoy me that people are flying all over the country for ‘celebrity’ dogs, instead of helping all the local ones in trouble.)

I disagree with this. I think that any dog, if he set his mind to it, could kill a human being, but the vast majority are conditioned not to.

I agree with the majority here that this “retraining” is nonsense. Who is going to take responsibility when one of these dogs kills the Jehovah’s Witnesses coming in the house? Not that such a thing is necessarily bad, or wouldn’t help society as a whole, but while mauling the Jo Ho’s some innocent people may be harmed. :smiley:

I assume you are referring to dogs, not minature poodles or chihuahuas?

Some dogs (individuals, not breeds) tempermentally aren’t capable of killing a squirrel, much less a human. They lack a talent for violence. (My dog actually cornered a squirrel once; he barked until it escaped.)

ALL dogs (again excepting the smallest) are bred to accept humans as alphas. They must be conditioned to kill a human.

Unless by accident, which was my original point. Some years back there was a horrible story about a Rottwheiller that was startled, snapped (with his teeth) and killed a child. (This was a good dog, apparently; even the child’s parents regretted he has to be put down).

A dog with massive jaw muscles can kill easily; a bird dog, bred for smaller jaw muscles, can not. It’s not temperment, or conditioning, but physiology.

Well, maybe in extreme cases, like an infant or very small child, or a severely handicapped person, yes. But there is NO way a miniature poodle, Shit-Zhu, or a pug is EVER going to kill a person that has even a remote chance of being able to fight back. Even a freakin’ five-year old using his bare hands could easily fight off a pug. Small dogs just aren’t physically equipped to injure other animals (or people.) Their small jaws can’t get a good grip, and their jaw muscles are much weaker.

What myth is being perpetuated? That pitbulls have a “killer instinct” bred into them? That’s your doing not some bureaucrat.

The dogs featured in the article are with non-profit organizations dedicated to rescuing pitbulls. There are similar operations for various other breeds, for mixed breeds, elderly dogs, handicapped dogs etc. Is one okay and not the other?

Additionally, Michael Vicks has been ordered to pay for all costs related to these dogs (housing, food etc) so taxpayers are not paying for any dogs that might be in a state/city/county operated shelter.

If the dog overpopulation problem is such an overwhelming concern to you, do you take similar umbrage at say:

  1. People who breed their dogs because they think they might make some extra cash, sell the puppies to people who may breed the puppy they purchased (the offspring produced then perpetuating the cycle) or may give that dog up to a shelter because they can’t take care of

  2. People who don’t spay and neuter their dogs/cats and let them run indiscriminately around to breed?

  3. People who impulsively buy a dog from a pet store or newspaper and then ship it off to a shelter when they can’t deal with it?

For the most part, these are the reasons why 4 million dogs and cats are euthanized each year. It is a huge drain on taxpayer money (not to mention
its potential for the spreading of disease and injury).

It is also, for the most part, entirely preventable if people would practice some semblance of personal responsibility. Yet, I don’t see any posts in Great Debates on the above subjects from you only some recreation outrage over a few dozen pitbulls that aren’t costing you a thing. Why is that?

How do you know there are a lot better candidates for adoption? Did you meet these dogs?

From your article:

“The dogs have been under a constant microscope for six months, and have never shown one sign of aggression. Not one,” said Brandon Bond of All Or Nothing Pit Bull Rescue.

Seems like good candidates for adoption for me.

Here’s another article:

Again, sound like good candidates for adoption.

Most dog rescues have to pay huge amounts for insurance. A lawsuit stemming from a dog bite would ruin them. I seriously doubt they’re putting up dogs that going to go around attacking people no matter how much you’d like that.

2 million dogs each year are euthanized due to overcrowding not one million.

And how do you know that the dogs in the OP’s article are going to freak out and kill a beloved pet or child? And how do you know there is a far greater chance that these dogs are going to freak out and kill a beloved pet or child at a far greater rate than other dogs adopted from an arbitrary shelter?

Do you have any cites? Any stats? Other than scare tactics and fear mongering, what do you have?

Non-profit orgs. dealing with dogs like these have insurance costs first and foremost in their minds. One lawsuit, one round of bad publicity and they are out of business. To think otherwise is naive and simplistic. They cannot allow a bad dog to be adopted because they won’t be around if they do.

Not to mention, dogs don’t “freak out.” I’m sure there are some rare cases of brain tumors (IIRC, there was a problem with some Springer spaniels from a
particular genetic line) but dogs just all of a sudden snapping and attacking? Doesn’t happen. I would bet anything that in most cases where someone claims
their dog just freaked out, there were warning signs with the dog owner never properly socializing their dog in the first place and ignoring signs of escalating

For the most part, pit bulls are dog-aggressive. I’ve never seen why people get in arms about something like that. I have a dog that is very dog-aggressive.
He’s not a pit bull and he’s never bitten another dog. Even though I live in a crowded area, it’s easy enough to deal with. Again, it’s a matter of personal
responsibility. The only problems I’ve ever encounter are with people who let their dogs off-leash (in areas that are clearly restricted to leashed dogs)
because they say they’re friendly (and apparently are therefore free to break the law and bother other people and their dogs). People with that kind of
self-entitlement shouldn’t have dogs in the first place.

For the most part, pit bulls are not aggressive to humans. While pit bulls were bred to be aggressive to other dogs, they were also deliberately bred
to be non-human aggressive.

Why is this? When you have dogs that are fighting each other in a pit, eventually you are going to have to separate the dogs from each other. A human
being has to do the separating. If you have a dog that is people aggressive, this becomes a problem.

IMHO, a well-bred, well-socialized pit bull is one of the safest dogs to have around people because they were historically bred to be people friendly.

This is a very good source of information on all things pit bull terrier related and it explains their history including what I’ve said above.


The HSUS (if this is the organization that you’re talking about) has done more damage to pitbulls than Michael Vicks will ever do. Pit bulls were not that
common until the HSUS decided to scare up donation dollars by demonizing fighting dogs. They got their publicity and people who were never interested in
dog fighting decided to jump on the bandwagon (and no I’m not a proponent of dog fighting in any way shape or form).

Additionally, the HSUS lied about the manner in which dog fighters trained their dogs. Again, historically, the dogs were trained like athletes with conditioning was the important factor. Bait animals etc, abusing the dogs to make them mean…all a product of HSUS imagination.

I’m not a proponent of dog fighting in any shape or form but much of the blame for the increase in dog fighting in this country and the horrible conditions to
which these dogs are subjected lie squarely in HSUS’ lap.

But this is nothing new for the HSUS. They are essentially the same organization as PETA, they just do a better marketing job with the knowledge that people
are lazy and will happily donate when they see their glossy advertisements rather than do any real research.


And what of Great Danes, St. Bernard’s, Great Pyrenees, Old English Mastiffs, Bull Mastiffs, Irish wolfhounds etc. If it’s a matter of musculature, then they’re shouldn’t be any large breeds at all.

And Pomeranians, evil dogs that they are:


Very well said, valleyofthedolls.

I’m always torn on this type of story. One of the local rescue organizations has a dog who was run over by a car, I think. It took (is taking) thousands of dollars to save the dog to give her some quality of life. So, lots and lots of donations later, one dog is saved.

And lots of others weren’t.

I neither want to condemn the special cases nor ignore the numbers. In the Vick situation, again, these dogs were higher risk because of the way they had been bred and treated. Someone decided to put in the resources to see if they could be saved, and I don’t begrudge them that. I just wonder if, again, the forest is invisible in the trees.


The latest national estimates I read were that 3-5 million cats and dogs were euthanized at shelters across the US annually. I chopped the lower estimate in half to account for dogs, and then chopped by a third to account for those that are euthanized for illness or behavior (based on the fact that places that claim to be “no-kill communities,” e.g., San Francisco, still have about a 30% euthanasia rate for these reasons), to arrive at my very back-of-the-envelope estimate of 1 million. Do you have a better source for your claim?

Psychic powers, my dear. Failing that, I can rely on my six years experience working for an open-access animal shelter. One of the first cases I dealt with there was labeling court photographs for a dogfighting case, in which dogs had broken bones jutting through flesh, teeth marks covering their tongues and lips, etc. A litter of puppies about 8 weeks old came in with the group of 13 dogs, and at first they played just like any other puppies played. By the time they were 12 weeks old, they had to be separated, because their “play” was drawing blood from one another. That’s extremely weird behavior for puppies. THey had not been socialized to fight.

One of the dogs broke free from her kennel one night, by hurling her body against the steel door repeatedly until the hinges snapped under the force of the blows. We were able to track her travels through the shelter by the trail of blood she left behind her. She approached other kennels in turn, hurling herself against the bars of their doors, trying to break through to get at the dogs beyond.

Dogs are bred for dozens of different reasons. Do you doubt that retrievers enjoy retrieving more than poodles do, or that border collies like to herd more than pugs do? If you don’t doubt that, why the skepticism about the idea that pit bulls (especially those still bred for “game”) like to fight dogs more than llasa apsos do?

This is nonsense. I say this based on my conversations with dogfighters. As part of my job at the animal shelter, I conducted a dozen or so classes a year at local high schools, at which I discussed dogfighting. Regularly about a quarter of the students in my class had witnessed or attended or participated in a dogfight. The stories about how the dogs were raised were not HSUS propaganda, they were the no-bullshit stories straight from the mouths of the kids who had watched uncles, older brothers, dads raise dogs for the pit. One kid recounted to me how he and his male relatives locked a dog in a closet and took turns beating on the door of the closet in order to “break” the dog, to drive it crazy. They regularly told me about feeding cocaine or gunpowder to dogs in order to increase their “game.” I have watched videos of dogfights taken by undercover agents. You do not know what you are talking about, and your demonization of the HSUS is repellently incorrect.

Incidentally, ActivistCash is a website run by a lobbyist for the restaurant industry; he also runs a website that demonizes Mothers Against Drunk Driving. He is, to put it mildly, not a reliable source for anything. Do some research on him before you rely on his research about HSUS.


Who is going to take the fall when one of these “retrained” animals rip someone’s face off?

Why risk it I ask?

Put them down…

This is a false statement. There are plenty of breeds of dogs who have, historically, been bred for the protection of their human against other humans. As valleyofthedolls points out:

Pit-type dogs are not among them.

All dogs are a risk.

Valley is right. Pits were traditionally bred to be dog-aggressive and NOT to be people-aggressive. This is why they very rarely attack adult humans. It’s also why they attack children so often: what they’re really bred to do is to be animal-about-their-own-size aggressive. Breeding isn’t an exact science, which is why border collies try to herd cars by biting at their front tires, and why retriever dogs are so happy to go after frisbees.

jsgoddess, all dogs are risks. Individual dogs that have been bred specifically to attack other animals about their own size are much larger risks than individual dogs that have not been bred to that purpose.

Note that I don’t believe all pit bulls are as dangerous as dogs bred for “game.” Many breeders have been working on breeding the agression out of pits for years now, and I have no problem with such dogs. It’s just the poor bastards bred for the psychotic qualities of “game” that I don’t believe should be released to the general public ever.

(Note that qualification. I’m unclear whether these rescue groups intend ever to put these animals in a situation in which they would have the opportunity to see a child as a target. If they plan not to do so–if they plan to take precautions with these dogs analogous to what responsible wolf-hybrid sanctuaries take, then I retract my earlier condemnation of them).


I resent the hell out of your implication. Where in the quoted post, or any post, have I implied there ‘shouldn’t be’ Bulldogs, or any of the breeds frequently trained for fighting?

You show me that.

What I said, and stand by, is that dogs with strong jaw muscles that have been trained for fighting are not good candidates for family pets.

I don’t see how any one who knows, loves, and respects dogs would argue with that.

It amazes me that on board “dedicated to fighting ignorance” people can get on their moral soapbox about PETA but in the same breath expect a pat on the back for saying they support the HSUS. The two organizations are pretty much the same, the HSUS just invests in a better advertising campaign. I guess the lesson to be learned is never to underestimate a person’s gullibility wherever a glossy brochure is concerned. But I digress…

You are unequivocally wrong, the HSUS is absolutely responsible for the pitbull fear mongering you see today. Don’t believe me? Go and read Vicki Hearne’s Bandit: Dossier of a Dangerous Dog. If you find one piece of information or statistic that you are able to prove incorrect in there, come back, show me where she’s wrong and I’ll apologize. You won’t be able to though.

As for your experiences at the shelter, when were you there? I would bet anything you were working at an animal shelter, mid to late 80’s and on.

The HSUS began their smear campaign in the mid 80’s, prior to that, I doubt many people had even heard of a pit bull terrier. The treatment of the dogs you’ve recounted is all also directly traced back to the HSUS and the lies they spread. Again, I direct you to Vicki Hearn’s book. Do you have intake records for your shelter? If you do look at them and see the number of pit bull and pit bull types housed throughout the years, you will see a huge spike in the mid-80s and on.

Where did I say that that pitbulls weren’t generally dog aggressive? What I did say was that dogs (including pitbulls) don’t just “freak out” which was your assertion. Usually, there are (ignored) warning signs and escalating behavior prior to a bite or mauling, I stand by that statement.

And this isn’t true either. Across the board for ANY breed, children are far more likely to be bitten than adults. Let loose an untrained and unsocialized border collie among some young kids and you’ll see quite a few bites.

Sorry, if I misinterpreted what you were saying. That said, I obviously don’t agree with the above as think the dogs in the OP’s article should have just as much of a chance at a new life as any other shelter dog.