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22 of Vick's dogs headed to Utah sanctuary

POSTED: January 13, 2008 5:04 a.m.
RICHMOND, Va. — Twenty-two of the 47 surviving pit bulls seized from suspended NFL star Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation left Virginia on Wednesday for a new home in Utah.

The animals took off from Richmond International Airport Wednesday morning on board a private chartered plane en route to Best Friends Animal Society, a no-kill sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

Wednesday’s move completes the process of relocating the 47 animals to eight rescue organizations across the country. Some of the dogs will remain in the permanent care of the sanctuaries, while others will be trained for possible adoption by members of the public. The organizations were recommended by the dogs’ court-appointed guardian, animal law expert Rebecca Huss, and approved by U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson last month.

Forty-eight pit bulls were seized from the Surry County property, but one was euthanized for medical reasons. Vick is serving a 23-month sentence for a dogfighting conspiracy. The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback and three co-defendants raised pit bulls and trained them for fighting behind his home. Several dogs that did not perform well in test fights were executed. Helping the dogs adjust to a social life will be difficult, but caretakers will observe the animals for at least six months and work to correct any behavior problems, said John Polis, spokesman for the 33-acre Utah sanctuary.

"The one thing about these dogs that’s different is they can’t be put in group living situations like most of our dogs," Polis told WWBT-TV in Richmond.

"So we’ve been spending the last few weeks clearing out some new areas where these dogs can have individual runs. They have indoor-outdoor access. They’re going to have a really nice home."



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