Surviving Vick dog and new owner working to dispel "pitbull myth"

Reported by: Ashley Cullins
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Updated: 4/29/2013 12:18 am
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- This week marks six years since police raided NFL quarterback Michael Vick's Virginia property and seized about 50 pitbulls that were part of his dogfighting ring. One of those dogs is now living happily in northern Nevada and his owner is working to raise awareness and dispel what he calls "the pitbull myth."

Mel is a seven-year-old pitbull and was just one year old when he was siezed from the property.

While he's still recovering from the trauma, his new owner Richard Hunter says Mel and the other survivng Vick dogs are living proof there's more to the breed than some people may think.

"I think that a lot of the sympathy for these dogs unfortunately was tempered by the fact that they were pitbulls," Hunter said. 

Hunter adopted Mel just more than three years ago from the Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

"Before I had Mel I didn't have a bad opinion of pitbulls," Hunter said. "I just didn't have any opinion. I didn't have any experience."

Hunter says having Mel as a pet has taught him the stereotypes about pitbulls are just plain wrong.

"One of the worst parts about the pitbull myth is that they are inherently dangerous, and nothing could be further from the truth," Hunter said.

He says it's not the dogs' fault the myth exists, but the owners'.

"The pitbull's biggest problem is that sometimes idiots get ahold of them," Hunter said. 

Mel is still afraid of meeting new people. Hunter says it's a psychological after-effect from being tortured. But he says Mel is great with other dogs - even the ones from the notorious Virginia dogfighting compound. 

"[Mel] and myself and five of the other Vick dogs and their families all stayed in a cabin, one cabin, together for three days," Hunter said.

Six years later, Hunter says the dogs' circumstances couldn't have been more different.

"These six dogs [were] together playing, rolling around in the grass, being completely social and docile with each other," Hunter said.  

They couldn't possibly have told anyone how false the myths about pitbulls were better than they showed them at the reunion. 

"It's the same six dogs," Hunter said. "It's the people who are bringing them together who are the complete opposite from Michael Vick to now with six loving families that care for them."

Hunter is scheduled to speak before the Senate Judiciary Committee Monday morning - on behalf of Mel and other pitbulls - in support of AB110. It's a bill that prevents breed- discrimination. Last week the assembly passed it unanimously.

Ten of the rescued Vick dogs are still waiting to be adopted from Best Friends Animal Society Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. For more information, click here.
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pittiemama - 4/29/2013 11:55 AM
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It is so nice to see someone voice the truth about pitbulls and be able to not just tell about pitbulls, but also show how sweet, loving, and loyal they are (even ones who were in a bad situation such as his pittie). I, too, am someone who would like to be able to show how sweet pitbulls are to change people's minds who just are not educated on the breed. My pittie is by far the sweetest dog I've ever had. She even let me move in with my 5 cats and we have had absolutely no problems on either side. Even the cats know she is a sweetheart. :-)

samdehne - 4/28/2013 3:03 PM
0 Votes
Nice video. Mel.. a female Pit Bull I think.. pretty much looks like my Dakota. Who is "musically" inclined. http://www.renocitizen.com/dakotapix.htm Sam Dehne (Reno) Dakota (7) is my 3rd Pit Bull.. covering almost 30 years.

Debbie Bell - 4/28/2013 10:24 AM
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There may be poorly bred 'pits' which are inherently dangerous but it's easy to tell which dogs those are. The idea of 'pits suddenly turning on people' is complete BS. Ours too was rescued from a fighting operation, bears physical and mental scars of abuse (ears chopped off, broken major canines on one side got infected and had to be extracted, gets afraid whenever she sees a belt not on person's waist, etc). But, as typical for these dogs, it's deeply in her nature to love and want to please people. She probably loved the scumbags who abused her, too. She is a truly formidable animal though and has a permanent problem getting along with other dogs, so owners of a dog like ours have to be committed to keeping other dogs safe. But to people she's just the sweetest creature. Even willfully ignorant and hateful 'pit bull' bashers would have a hard time holding out against her love.

Pittymom - 4/28/2013 10:02 AM
0 Votes
All the Pit Bull breed wants is someone to love and care for them, just like any other breed. The only reason these dogs are use for fighting is because they are so loyal to there owners. They will die trying to please, even when they are mistreated and abused. I have owned several breeds of dogs. All of them where part of our family, but I have never seen the love and trust in there eyes like I do in my Pit (Lillie Bean).

Desirae111 - 4/28/2013 8:48 AM
0 Votes
I had the worst opinion of pit bulls growing up because I was bitten by one, and then I started seeing them in a new light, animal planet's Pit Bulls and Parolees, Pit Boss, and Cesar Millan (Nat. Geo) all showed me that these dogs can be great dogs it is just the crappy owners that cause things to go sour. I am proud to say that after a couple of years of being one of those people, those ignorant people who had feared something they did not understand I had rescued a pit bull, her name is Jazzy, she is believed to have been a breeder for pit bull fighting and was almost starved to death and I absolutely love her and I do not want to ever own another breed of dog. She's amazing and this article is amazing and just shows the absolutely true nature of the pit bull, they can go through hell and back and still bounce right back to being a happy, gentle loving dog. Thank you for this article, I cried tears of joy as I read it.
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