Today I finished The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption by Jim Gorant. The book started out as a stand-alone article for Sports Illustrated and Gorant was persuaded to write a book about the dogs by an editor who was familiar with pit bulls and who thought the dogs’ story should be told.
I confess to having skipped large sections of the first part of the book because they were simply too graphic for me to read. I can handle my own blood and my own injuries, but I can’t handle other people’s, and the truly terrible things that were done to these dogs made me queasy. A couple of the dogs were euthanized because their emotional and physical injuries were too severe for rehabilitation, and a couple of others died from accidents or other health problems. But the majority of the dogs are alive and well; several of them are in shelters and will never be able to leave, but far more than expected were adopted. I cried for the dogs who didn’t make it, and I cheered for the dogs who did. At the end of the book, Gorant gives us a “where are they now” of each and every dog taken from Vick’s property.
This book is not for everyone, but I’m glad I managed to get through it. And, as I finished it, all I could think of was Vick himself. We are told that less than 2 years in prison means he’s paid his debt to society. But has he paid his debt to these innocent dogs? Personally, I don’t think so. But, according to Gorant:
A lot of people I interviewed feel he got off way too easy. But we have a justice system, and when you get punished, it’s no one’s place to ask for more jail time. There are others like Vick who’ve gotten more and less jail time. I think the prosecutors did a great job getting what they got. Federal guidelines recommend no jail time, so he actually served above what he should have. By getting him to plea and serve the 23 months, he possibly avoided additional counts, like RICO and interstate gambling charges, which would have put him away for much longer.
How the Feds can justify not giving someone jail time for torturing innocent creatures is beyond me, but Gorant tells us something else that is almost as upsetting. Gerald Poindexter, the Commonwealth Attorney for Surry County, Virginia (where Bad Newz Kennels operated) did not want Vick or his partners prosecuted and made it difficult for the investigators to do their jobs. According to Gorant, Poindexter thought the fact that Vick was a successful black quarterback who had risen from poverty meant that the investigators should leave him alone. Fortunately, the Feds took over and the investigation went ahead.
The book is sad, but it’s also a reaffirmation of life. I am very glad I read it.