SMITHSFIELD, Va.— What was once an estate that thrived off of horrific dog fights and torture has now turned into 15 acres of green grass, open fields and, most importantly, hope for dogs that have lived lives of abuse and pain.
NFL Quarterback Michael Vick ran his dog-fighting operation out of his Smithsfield, Virginia estate. Vick’s Bad Newz Kennel saw dogs being fought, chained, beaten, hung and even drowned when they lost a fight. In 2007, Vick pleaded guilty to dog fighting and spent 18 months in jail.
Dogs Deserve Better purchased the sprawling estate in 2011 with their donation money. They re-named it Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs.
Instead of kennels, there are socialization rooms and cushy beds. Where a basketball court once stood, dogs now run. The idea was to give free space for formerly-abused dogs to roam and explore as they work on trusting humans again.
One of the few things that still stand from Bad Newz are the make-shift sheds that Vick had built to house his fighting dogs. They serve as a reminder of how much more people can do to help these animals.
“This kind of close contact and loving atmosphere is everything for a dog that could be so traumatized it might take them three months just to learn how to chase a ball,” said House Mother Laurel Clark.
The organization estimates they have adopted out 400 dogs and has dreams of expanding further to include a veterinary clinic.