If you’re a dog lover, chances are you’re still haunted by the horrific details of the abuse at the hands of Michael Vick when he bankrolled (and allegedly participated in) his Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting ring. 51 fighting dogs and the bodies of 9 more dead pit bulls were pulled from his Virginia home. Many of us wept at the stories of these courageous dogs – and Lucas definitely stood out among the pack.
Best Friends Animal Society said farewell to Lucas on Wednesday evening, June 19th, at age 13. The well-loved, sweet dog lost his battle with a myriad of health problems and was humanely euthanized. He suffered from a type of Babesia common among fighting dogs; he and many of his fellow Vicktory dogs arrived with the disease, carried by a blood parasite spread through bite wounds.
Babesia is a horrible disease that can be treated, but not cured. He suffered periodic flare-ups that would sap his strength through anemia. That in addition to age-related complications and, just a really hard life, were his undoing. In his final days, a steady stream of caregivers and Best Friends staff visited to bid him farewell. There were many tears and fond recollections.
Because of his perceived street value, the Federal judge who adjudicated the Vick dogfighting case (and authorized the placement of the Vick dogs with rescues), ruled that Lucas and 21 other “Vicktory Dogs” be released to Best Friends Animal Society with the condition that they remain lifetime-care dogs at the sanctuary, located in Kanab, Utah. Prior to the Bad Newz Kennels case, there was no hope for dogs confiscated in dogfighting cases, according to Gregory Castle, chief executive officer of Best Friends Animal Society.
“Before Lucas and the rest of the Vicktory dogs came to Best Friends, the policy on dogs taken from fighting rings was that they be killed. That’s it. That was the policy – rescue them from the bad guys and then kill them. After the Vicktory Dogs those policies and organizational positions were changed in favor of every dog being treated and evaluated as an individual.”
Despite scars from fights marking his face, happy-go-lucky Lucas touched the hearts of everyone who met him.
When the dogs first arrived at Best Friends in January 2008, media came from around the country to meet the dogs. While most of the other dogs were very frightened and cowered from the camera, Lucas proudly hopped on top of his doghouse, wagging his tail nonstop and posing for the camera. Several hardened newspeople were visibly smitten with this charismatic dog.
“Ironically, of all the Vicktory Dogs, the one who could never be adopted per court order, was the most social and well-behaved of them all around people,” said Castle. “And that is how Lucas will be remembered around the staff offices where he spent his days. It was a blessing in every way to be around him and to witness his wonderful effect on everyone he met.
“Lucas should have been someone’s pet and been raised in a loving home,” added Castle. “His life, however, was stolen by a gang of thugs who thrived on inflicting pain on helpless animals. Yet, he bore not a hint of malice toward people. In fact he makes the case that it is the characteristic loyalty and desire of dogs to please their people that is manipulated and used against them to get them to fight, which most certainly doubles the crime and abuse of dog fighting.”
Farewell, sweet Lucas.
Even though Lucas is gone, his story will continue to be an inspiration to all. If you’d like to support Best Friends Animal Society, the amazing organization that rescued and reunited the “Vicktory dogs,” click here. If you’d like to honor Lucas’s memory, contribute to the fund Best Friends has set up in his name.