The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption
Rating: 4 paws & a tail wag!
Every once in a while a story hits the press about a dog fighting operation that has been busted. None of these stories has been more notorious than the one involving NFL star Michael Vick. In 2007, when a dog fighting operation was discovered on his property in Virginia, there was a media frenzy. Although it appeared to get a lot of coverage, what the public saw was only a portion of what was going on behind the scenes. A gag order kept much of the information about the investigation and the Vick dogs out of the media.
Jim Gorant has done an amazing job bringing the story to light in The Lost Dogs: Michael Vicks Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption. Gorant’s narrative takes the reader from the preliminary days of the investigation through every step of building a case against Vick and his friends. He introduces us to the investigators who broke the case at the Bad Newz Kennels and the difficulties they encountered while uncovering evidence. As details of the case come to light, he paints a disgusting picture of dog fighting in general, and Michael Vick in particular. Gorant’s writing is compelling and engaging. Readers will find it difficult to put the book down.
The true stroke of brilliance in the narrative is the way Gorant writes about the dogs. They are not just intangible objects secondary to a celebrity story. The dogs are the story: they are the victims, and the book, after all, is about their redemption. Gorant describes with vivid detail what it means to be a fight dog, describing their existence from a dog’s viewpoint. Then he makes the reader fall in love with each of the 51 unique dogs, as he draws us through the story of their individual struggles during the rescue process.
Of course, not all the dogs make it through the process. But the efforts of the multiple rescue teams that work to save them is nothing short of heroic. Ultimately, the final outcome for the dogs is a thousand times better than any of the rescuers had dared to hope.
Gorant doesn’t leave the reader hanging with the story of the rescue. In the final chapter “Where Are They Now?” he gives a final update on each dog for closure.
Although readers can take some comfort in the final outcome for the Vick dogs, it’s impossible to come away from the book with anything but utter contempt for Vick; and disgust that he continues to reap the financial rewards of an adoring public.
- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Gotham; Reprint edition (September 6, 2011)
- ISBN-10: 159240667X
Jim Gorant is the senior editor at Sports Illustrated. He has also written for GQ, Men’s Journal, Men’s Health, Outside, Sports Afield and Popular Science among others. His previous books include Fit for Golf and Fanatic: 10 Things All Sports Fans Should Do Before They Die.
NOTE: The Lost Dogs was published before the latest development in the Vick story. The rescue group, Dogs Deserve Better, has purchased the former Vick property in Smithfield, Virginia and turned it into the Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
Dog, Inc. – the launching of the dog cloning industry
Rating: 4 Paws
It was 1997 when John Sperling, his friend Joan Hawthorne and her son, Lou, were talking about a New York Times article they had all read about cloning. During the natural progression of the conversation, John suggested that maybe Joan’s dog, Missy, could be cloned. It was an offhand remark, but it took hold, and before long, Sperling was financing a full scale scientific operation to make it happen.
In Dog, Inc., author John Woestendiek takes the reader behind the scenes during the advent of the pet cloning industry and tells not only Sperling’s story, but the story of his competitors domestically and abroad, and the first pet owners to enlist their services. It’s a must-read for anybody who has ever entertained the thought of cloning their pet.
Woestendiek doesn’t make moral judgements or take sides in the cloning controversy – he merely introduces us to the players, explains their motivations, and reports the obstacles they encountered as well as the final results achieved.
It’s not a pretty story. The author goes beneath the superficial ideal of cloning and exposes the con men, legal battles, animal abuse, scientific fraud, and dissatisfied pet owners. Much of the story is very disturbing; from the financial exploitation of grieving pet owners to the sheer volume of animals involved to achieve the cloning of a single pet. Readers will draw their own conclusions about the ethical implications of cloning as the scientists involved reveal their true motivations: the drive to do something no one else has done, national pride, and greed.
The quest to clone man’s best friend proved to be a daunting task, indeed. Although sheep, cows, pigs deer, and even cats were successfully cloned, cloning dogs involved unique complexities; perhaps mirroring the integral complexity of the human/canine bond.
Woestendiek does an excellent job of putting the complicated scientific process into terms that laymen can easily understand. He also underscores the fact that cloning is reproduction, not resurrection; a point that some pet owners refused to acknowledge.
Many readers will find Dog, Inc. informative and interesting, but there’s no doubt that animal advocates will be troubled by what they learn. This book will spark hours of discussion.
- Softcover:310 pages
- Publisher:Avery (First paperback edition 2012)
JohnWoestendiek is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter. He is a thirty-five-year veteran of newspapers, including: Arizona Daily Star, Lexington Herald-Leader, Charlotte Observer,Philadelphia Inquirer,and the Baltimore Sun. He lives in North Carolina with his shelter dog, Ace, maintains the popular blog, Ohmidog! and the website Travels With Ace.