Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Lost Dogs

Publisher's Summary. The bestselling story of survival and our powerful bond with man's best friend, in the aftermath of the nation's most notorious animal cruelty case. Featuring a new Afterword with updates on the Vick dogs.

Animal lovers and sports fans were shocked when the story broke about NFL player Michael Vick's brutal dog-fighting operation. But what became of the fifty-one dogs who survived? As acclaimed writer Jim Gorant reveals, their story is the truly newsworthy aspect of this case. The Lost Dogs traces the effort to bring Vick to justice and turns the spotlight on these infamous pit bulls, which were saved from euthanasia by an outpouring of public appeals coupled with a court order that Vick pay nearly a million dollars in "restitution" to the dogs.

As an ASPCA-led team evaluated each one, they found a few hardened fighters, but most were lovable, friendly creatures desperate for compassion. In The Lost Dogs, we meet these amazing animals, many of whom now live in loving homes and work in therapy programs. The Lost Dogs exposes the terrible practice of dog fighting and shows us that even after being subjected to heartbreaking abuse, above all, a dog still wants to be man's best friend.

What's in a name? Doesn't a rose smell just as sweet no matter what you call it? Still if that is the case why do so many new parents agonize over the perfect name for their new bundle of joy? Why not randomly draw a name from a hat or better yet use junior's SSN as his moniker? Because names do matter, not just to the parents but to the child too (as many a poorly named offspring can attest).

By now the Michael Vick dog-fighting story is old news, but what happened to the canine victims? That is the real story. When Bad Newz Kennels (Vick's dog fighting ring) was discovered it was assumed that the dogs were killing machines who needed to euthanized as quickly as possible. But that didn't happen here, instead each dog was individually evaluated. The results were remarkable! Far from being attack dogs, most were simply frightened canines who had never been given a chance to thrive. And thanks to public outrage, Vick's deep pockets; a few brave animal activists; and an enlightened judge most of the dogs have went on to happier circumstances.

And it all began with the radical act of naming. As author Jim Gorant notes:

On a piece of paper that listed each dog by its shelter I.D. number, color, and gender. [The animal activists in charge of assessing the dogs] went down the list and gave each dog a name.

Suddenly these were no longer the Bad Newz dogs or those pit bulls from Vick's place. They were Oscar and Rose, and Ernie and Charlie and Ray and Curly and forty two others. They were a no longer a story or a group or a commodity; they were forty eight individual dogs in the same situation.

Here are their names along with their pre-name identities:

Chesapeake 54902: Audie; Chesapeake 54903: Sox; Chesapeake 54904: Curly; Chesapeake 54905 Jonny Justice; Chesapeake 54906: Shadow; Chesapeake 54907: Zippy; Chesapeake 54916: Makevilli; Chesapeake 54917: Little Red; Chesapeake 54918: Grace; Chesapeake 54919: Bonita; Hanover 26: Ginger; Hanover 27: Halle; Hanover 28: Mel; Hanover 29: Oliver; Hanover 30: Squeaker; Hanover 31: Jhumpa Jones; Hanover 32: Uba; Hanover 41: Handsome Dan; Hanover 42: Iggy; Hanover 43: Seven; Hanover 44: Hector; Hopewll 002491: Leo; Suffolk M-0380: Alf; Suffolk F-0381: Gracie; Suffolk M-0382: Ray; Suffolk M-0383: Oscar; Suffolk M-0384: Lance; Sussex 2601: Mabel; Sussex 2602: Sweet Jasmine; Sussex: Sweet Pea; Sussex 2604: Frodo; Sussex 2605: Georgia; Sussex 2606 Ernie; Sussex 2607: Willie; Sussex 2608: Charlie; Sussex 2609: Layla; Sussex 2610: Rose; Sussex 2611: Denzel; Sussex 2612: Meryl; Sussex 2613: Stella; Sussex 2614: Harriet; Sussex 2615: Tug; Sussex 2616: Lucas; Sussex 2619: Mya; Sussex 2620: Ellen; Virginia Beach 27: Cherry Garcia; Virginia Beach 38: Teddles; and Virginia Beach: Red;

As a dog owner two times over and an animal lover in general, there were parts I skipped over because they were too graphic for me. However, the vast majority of the book I gladly consumed because I needed to know whether Jonny Justice found a home and whether Sweet Jasmine ever came out of her shell. In short, I needed to know what happened to each dog.

The Lost Dogs: these are the dogs and these are their stories.

Review based on a borrowed library copy.


  1. I think I would have to skip over parts of this book too. I'm glad to see the book is satisfying overall.

  2. It's terrible to be misunderstood, whether we're humans or dogs.