Expanding on his Sports Illustrated cover story, Gorant (Fanatic) offers a chilling investigation into Michael Vick’s dog-fighting operation and the men and women who brought him to justice and rehabilitated the rescued dogs. Gorant outlines the rise of Bad Newz Kennels, describing in sometimes painful detail the abuse, torture, and execution of the animals–particularly disturbing is an episode in which Vick and a friend swing a failed fighting dog “over their heads like a jump rope” and kill it by repeatedly slamming it into the ground–and tracing the rescue of dozens of pit bulls seized from Vick’s property. Gorant outlines the efforts to save these animals from euthanasia, challenging the negative public perceptions of pit bulls and reporting back on the status of dogs like Sox (now a certified therapy dog), Zippy (adopted by a family of five), and Iggy (still shy but growing comfortable with his adopted circle of friends). At a time when Vick has returned to professional football and much of the public outcry about Bad Newz Kennels has been forgotten, this book provides a stark reminder about the horror and prevalence of dog fighting. (Oct.)
When Gorant’s cover story on Michael Vick’s dogs appeared in the December 29, 2008, issue of Sports Illustrated, it received the hugest response of any story the magazine published that year. In this expansion, told with quiet authority (and unbelievable guts), Gorant details the discovery of the Bad Newz kennel, the efforts of USDA special agent Jim Knorr and Virginia deputy sheriff Bill Brinkman to bust it, official resistance to touching Vick, the move on Bad Newz, the efforts of BAD RAP pit bull rescuers Tim Racer and Donna Reynolds to evaluate the dogs (which saved them from being destroyed), the thoroughgoing plan for the dogs’ reclamation, and the legal and moral ramifications of the case. Read about the injuries, the exhumation of dogs shot or hung, the bloodied ring, and the eyewitness account of Vick taking a little red dog (a trope throughout) and swinging her around by the legs, smashing her to death—and see if you can stop shaking. Then learn that when the tenacious and unjustly maligned pit bull was forced into fighting, it became even more deeply responsive to humans—a trait it retains. All but a few of Vick’s dogs have been rehabilitated—they’re family pets and even therapy dogs whose stories are all here. VERDICT Riveting, heartbreaking, and finally hopeful, this is exemplary reporting; essential for anyone who cares about animal welfare—or what it means to be responsibly human. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 4/1/10.]
The story of the dogs abused in NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s illegal dogfighting activities.
During the course of another investigation, Virginia state officials were led to a rural property owned by Vick, where they found drug paraphernalia, marijuana and an assortment of guns—as well as evidence of an illegal dogfighting operation, including a pit where dog fights occurred and a field where 66 pit bulls were chained up with very little food and water. Sports Illustrated senior editor Gorant(Fanatic: Ten Things All Sports Fans Should Do Before They Die, 2007) looks at how dedicated local law-enforcement officers and a USDA undercover agent teamed up to gather evidence, bringing the case to trial (“the biggest dogfighting conviction ever, one that set new precedents”), despite local pressure to drop the prosecution. The author presents a nuanced picture of Vick’s involvement, from his original effort to cover up his connection to the dogfighting ring by claiming that he had bought the property for the use of family and friends, to his confession and apology. Sentenced to 23 months in prison, his career was left in shambles and he was forced to declare bankruptcy. Another outcome of the case was the rehabilitation of the dogs, which for the first time, writes Gorant, “were looked at not as weapons, as the equivalent of a gun in a shooting, but as victims.” Because of the efforts of dedicated animal-rescue workers, two-thirds found good homes where they were loved and socialized. The author makes a strong case that pit bulls have an underservedly bad reputation—”the latest breed to get sucked into a self-fulfilling cycle of fear, hype, substandard care, and rising population”—following in the footsteps of bloodhounds, German shepherds and Dobermans “as next in the line of tough-guy dogs.”
Despite some maudlin passages, Gorant ably presents an ugly story with a redemptive ending.
- The Daily Beast
The Lost Dogs is a page-turning investigation of dog fighting and an implicit indictment of the sport.
- The Seattle Kennel Club
Packed with vivid characters and dramatic incidents, The Lost Dogs is a sobering reminder that man’s best friend isn’t always viewed that way. But this deeply affecting portrayal also reflects that fairy-tale endings are within reach when those involved are infused with spirit, confidence and commitment.
Gorant’s fine book is a heartwarming tale of how the love and commitment of a community can heal even the deepest and most abhorrent of traumas.
Los Angeles Times
The Lost Dogs has the quality of a page-turner as it chronicles the entire story, in all its upsetting detail, of the dogs’ rescue and re-entry into the world.
The New Yorker Book Blog
A well-researched, moving account
The Christian Science Monitor
The Lost Dogs shows us that goodness can be found in the places where we may least expect it.
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 9/16/2010
Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)
More by this Author
The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bulls–One Flying Disc at a Time
The Lost Dogs:</ul>
Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption
The Underdog Who Conquered a Sport, Saved a Marriage, and Championed Pit Bullss
Ten Things All Sports Fans Should Do Before They Die
Jim Gorant has worked as a magazine editor and writer for twenty years, and is currently a senior editor at Sports Illustrated. His work has appeared in such magazines as Men’s Health, GQ, and Outside. Also the author of Fanatic: 10 Things All Sports Fans Should Do Before They Die, he lives in New Jersey.