When Bad Newz Kennels, the notorious dog fighting operation of former NFL superstar Michael Vick, came to light, Best Friends Animal Society took a stand to rescue the dogs. They were dogs no one – not even colleagues in the animal welfare industry – thought could ever function in our society. They were too badly damaged, too aggressive, too far gone to deserve compassion. Best Friends was virtually alone in the call to give these dogs a chance at life. Yet they prevailed…..or, more precisely, the dogs prevailed. 22 of the worst cases are being cared for by Best Friends; these are the Vicktory Dogs.
Today, less than one year removed from their hell, Best Friends can foresee the day when many of these dogs will be constant companions to some lucky families. Dogs seem to have an innate ability to move beyond the hurt, forgive humans their evil, and share love once again. It’s because of this that Best Friends’ patient and talented team of trainers and caregivers have been so successful with the Vicktory Dogs rehabilitation program. I was honored to have the Vicktory Dogs as my models for this art project.
Art can present us with a different view, a new perspective, another way of thinking about things. In this series of paintings of the Vicktory Dogs I’m challenging current-day perceptions of Pit Bulls by depicting them close-up, and inviting the viewer to question how they look at, see and perceive these dogs.
Pit bulls and other so called “bully breeds” account for a large percentage of animals being destroyed in shelters every day. This fear-response to their reputation as vicious killers is being driven by the image of Pit Bulls in the media. Dog fighting is a sad reality, but it’s humans who put dogs in a ring to fight. It’s humans who use violence and torture to make these dogs the symbol of their own aggression. The Vicktory Dogs are poster children for this minority of dogs who themselves are victims.
The Vicktory Dog Paintings were made possible in part by a grant from the Culture & Animals Foundation.