On April 26th, 2007, law enforcement officials descended on a sprawling white-brick house at 1915 Moonlight Road in Smithfield, Virginia. The home belonged to Michael Vick, who was the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons and one of the highest paid players in the NFL. Although the police were there on a drug search, they quickly found evidence of what appeared to be a large, well-financed dog fighting operation.

Fifty-one pit bulls were seized from the property and they sat in local shelters for six months as the ensuing investigation played out, leading to guilty pleas from Vick and his partners in an operation known as Bad Newz Kennels. In most cases, that would have been it for the dogs. Considered a public hazard, they would have been euthanized. But a tidal wave of public outcry inspired government officials to at least consider the possibility of saving some dogs. 

The startling string of events that followed included a landmark legal decision, a never-before assembled team of expert evaluators, a leap of faith and a selection of rescuers who were willing to do whatever it took to help. At the heart of it all was a group of dogs that wanted desperately to overcome what had until then been a life of violence and deprivation. 

Taken together, these tales showcase a resilience, dedication and commitment that have the power to alter the way society views pit bulls and to reinforce the essential nature of the human-animal bond. The Lost Dogs, for the first time, tells the behind-the-scenes story from the day of that initial raid until today.    

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Welcome to The Lost Dogs website

The book's official publication date is Sept. 16, but you can pre-order online (see the links at left) and you will receive the book on the first day it's available. Meanwhile, events and promotions will start to get serious in August. There's a lot in the works, including TV, radio and various magazine pieces and reviews. I'll post all the details here as they become available.  

As far as the dogs go, I have to say congrats to Roo Yori and Hector. I spent quite a bit of time on the phone with Roo talking about Hector when I was researching first the article and then the book about the dogs. My intention was to include Hector in both, but I could never make it out to their home in southern Minnesota. Well, this spring Roo accepted a job as the director of care and enrichment at the Animal Farm Foundation in Amenia, New York. It's only a few hours away, and Hector is one of the most amazing of all the Vick dogs, so I hope to drive up one day soon and finally meet both of them face to face.  


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Reader Comments (21)

I came to work this morning and read the article in Parade, "Can You Teach a Bad Dog New Tricks"?. I was very encouraged and happy to find out that several of Vick's dog's were able to be rehabilitated and I am even more excited about Jim Gorant's book. I plan to purchase it and read it from cover to cover. I myself am a pit owner and my boy Gucci was used as a fighting dog. He didn't win the first couple of fight's so his owner's viewed him as worthless. With all the rumors and hype behind the pit bull breed I was apprehensive at first about taking Gucci in. But researching the breed calmed me down. We need to ban stupid people not dogs. Years ago they were known in England as "nanny dogs". People left their children with the breed as a nanny. Gucci, now with me for almost a year is an answer to prayer and means so much to me. He gets along well with other people and other dogs, no cats though. He and I see eye to eye on that one, so not having a cat is no issue! I encourage anyone that has the time and energy to rescue or rehabilitate a pit bull, DO IT! You won't regret it and you'll have a friend for life. Just be careful of that big slimy tongue it may lick you to death!!

August 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaurel

as a pitbull owner for over half of my 56 years, i am not at all amazed that the vick dogs rehabilitated so well. i have fostered and re-homed many, many pits over the years, a lot of them abused or neglected; most of the time they just need a LOT of love, and a stable environment, and they become the happy, playful, loving friends they were meant to be!! to all involved in this rescue and rehabilitation, thank you so much...there's a special place in heaven for people like you!!

August 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermargi worley

I have been a pit bull owner for only 3 years. I have had several friends who have owned them and all made wonderful family members. It's all in the training as with any other animal or human being for that matter. My baby is asleep in my lap as I type.! Thank you for writing your book. I cannot wait to read it.

August 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDiane

I enjoyed the Parade article and look forward to your upcoming book. Do you know what happened to the pit named Jane who was mentioned in several of the legal documents. Is she still alive and if so how has her rehab gone. Thks

August 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterPat

I look forward to reading about these beautiful animals. I'm especially looking forward to the publicity about the book, for I'm hoping it will cast a great big spotlight on the multi-million-dollar football player whose monstrous treatment of these animals has been rewarded with another huge multi-million-dollar football contract. Shame on those who were so willing to forgive him, and blessing on those who have saved these innocent dogs and shown them what love is.

September 17, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLinda

I finished your book in a day, and for those who are about to read it, the first 20 pages are extremely difficult to get through. However, the pages that follow are addictive and uplifting. I was fascinated by the legal wrangling and good ol' boy politics in the moral armpit known as Surry County. That said, the heroes outnumber the monsters by far in this book. It was absolutely fascinating, and inspiring to watch people ask "what if" when they didn't have to. It is nice to know that I'm not alone in my need to rescue and worship this goofy, lovable breed. Now, when I look at my two pit bull rescues belly-up and basking in the sun without a care in the world, I think about how lucky we are to have each other.

September 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLola

I'm almost done with the book. It took me a week to open it. Thanks for letting everyone know just how morally bankrupt michael vick and friends are. . I only hope that some day they will recieve a fraction of the suffering that the dogs endured. God bless all the caring people that have taken care of and loved these dogs.

October 5, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterbarbara krone

The book was very well written. I will not waste my time on Micheal Vick. The book was based on the victims, the pit bulls. How they learned to trust us, they hold no grudges. Yes they had long struggle, but held no prejudice. They had to cope and they succeeded. We are so lucky that Jim Gorant took the time to write about these victims. He gave them a voice. And we were lucky enough to hear them through this book. May other read this book and open their minds, that Pit Bulls are not vicious monster. The monster are the ones that use the pit bulls in this manner. I have been blessed to have two wonderful pit bulls. So if anyone who reads this book can spread the word, they can be saved. We just have to time to fix the damage that put on them. Thank Jim Gorant!

October 12, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNathalie Buckner

enjoyed the book immensely. my grandson bugged for years to get a pit but my wife was afraid of them. finally we got a pup 2 yrs. ago. she is so happy go lucky it is disgusting. loves to roughouse and crawl under the blankets at night. her favorite toy is a 4 yr old Jack Russell. these ladies are inseperable. and my mini Beagle just looks at them like theyre nuts.I live in a row house in the city but am fortuinate to have a back yard that once upon a time was filled with plants and flowers.. oh well

October 26, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterrobert

I just bought your book yesterday and have read half of it already. I had to stop many times, breaking down sobbing when reading the accounts of the horrific cruelty that Michael Vick used on these dogs. I knew it was bad but I had no idea how bad. I don't think anyone will know the horrible truth until they read your book and sadly to say the whole world NEEDS to know what happened on Michael Vick's property on Michael Vick's watch, to animals that were under his "care".

The man says he is repentant for what he's done and maybe he is, only God knows that. But I tell you what, there needs to be a law that prevents this monster from ever owning an animal of any kind for the rest of his life. We are all aware that the most horrific criminals throughout history have been shown to have been animal abusers. What does that say about Michael Vick? What kind of human being is he really? Someday he will have kids and what will they say about his dog fighting days? What do his family and friends think about when looking into the eyes of someone capable of the kind of cruelty that he was?

Thank you for writing the book so that people will understand the plight of these beautiful loving dogs that have been horribly misused and horribly misunderstood. We are big animal rescuers and our next rescues will be pit bulls.

Your book is incredible and I am telling everyone I know to read it.

May all the Michael Vick's of the world be stopped permanently from hurting another animal. I pray for our Creator Himself to continue to intervene on their behalf. Amen and amen.

October 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBeverly Garrett

I ordered the book from my library because I had seen some lovely pictures of the lost dogs with their rehabilitators and wanted to know more. A while ago , I had read a novel by Greg Iles about dogfighting that completely freaked me out and turned my stomach. When the Michael Vick case came along, I was totally rooting for him to go down. I'm so glad he did , but I know that somehow , in this jaded world, he still has fans. I can only hope that his mother and the rest of the family were made to hear the testimony about the evil acts he perpetuated on those dogs so that there is no mistake that Michael Vick is a a human monster.

October 31, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermelanie

Wow, thank you for writing this wonderful book, I think I finished it in about a day and half :) My husband and I have a wonderful rescued pit bull mix and our lives would not be the same without him. Buddy has never met a stranger and with some work will make a great agility dog and maybe someday a therapy dog--he has changed my mind about this breed :)
I am now an avid follower of the BAD RAP organization amoung others.

December 8, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

I ran to Barnes and Nobles and purchased your book when it first came out but I just didn't have the heart to read it till now,3 months later. I knew it would be difficult to read and yes it was. I commend all of the people and organizations that was responsible for keeping these poor innocent animals and rehabiliitating them to what they are today. I know first hand the time, patience and money involved because of my pitbull rescue dog...Georgia, who is now a member of my household for the last 2 yrs. People need to be aware and open their eyes and mouths when they see or hear anything resembling a dog ring and report it to the police or ASPCA. This is a disgusting way of sick humans to seek thrills and money by abusing animals. As punishment to Vick, I think he should have been treated the way these animals were treated, he got away too easy and for the NFL to accept him back is even sicker. Thank You Mr. Gorant for writing this difficult book. I am upset that you didn't promote your book so much. I was waiting to see if you'd come to the bookstores for signings but you didn't. Oh Well. One more thing, Thank you for all the pictuers in the book, it helped while reading to place names and faces, it made a big difference.

December 18, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFrancine, Tampa, Fl

Today I see that the President has applauded the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles for giving Michael Vick another chance. Really??? Could it be that the current leader of the greatest Country in the World has not read this outstanding, sad, some times horrifying and in the end very happy book about some who didn't get a second chance and thankfully because there are people who will fight when needed there are those who did.

How is it possible that anyone who has a dog in their home could ever thank anyone for giving Michael Vick a second chance?? What luck it was that he was found out early on about his endeavor to kill and mame.

Thank You Jim Gorant. While your book made me cry sad tears it also made me cry happy ones too. You did a beautiful job with this book. As a former pit bull owner I know that this breed is not what it's been made out to be. They are the most loving, loyal friend a man, women, child or family could ever know.

I only hope that someone somewhere keeps a constant eye on the killer known as Michael Vick so that he does not attempt to posses another dog or cat for that matter. A second chance..........no he did not deserve a second chance. He had the pleasure of making decisions. The animals he abused did not.

December 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLettie Willis

What a wonderful book, Mr Gorant. I just finished reading it. It gave me a new perspective about pitt bulls. My son owns 2 pitts and they reside in my home. We carry the required insurance which is $100, 000 on each anmal in the State of Ohio. This law shows the ignorance of lawmakers where pitt bulls are concerned. In most cases, pitt bulls only react to the stupidity of people.
Your book was difficult to read...the inhumane acts by Michael Vick and his friends made me ill. Michael Vick should NEVER own an animal of any kind the rest of his life. He should still be financing the rehab of all the dogs affected. He got off to easy, and then to be back in the NFL making huge amounts of money is not setting well with me....May he feel the same kind of pain he inflicted on those innocent dogs.
Thank you for writing this book. Hopefully, it will open the eyes of ignorance where pitt bulls are concerned.

March 12, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPatty Brooks

I was mortified when I heard of the charges against an up and coming STAR in the NFL; he must have thought he was invincible. and above the law. To think so highly of himself and so little of one of God's creatures (by multiples) I was concerned as to what happened to the dogs that survived....I heard about the book and am the first to read it from our library. I hung on every word; I cried ; my heart jumped for joy and in the end I felt hope for the dogs and their future. Recently the dogs in Whistler, BC were not as lucky; but I feel they will have their day in court also. The dogs themselves are the best evidence that the breed is really loving and trustworthy; in life we are told you get back what you give. These dogs have shown courage and love after living on the brink of hell for the first and most impressionable time of their lives. I am glad to have this site to check up on the dogs progress..thank-you. Too bad Mr. Vick has done his time and now enjoys his freedom...I wonder does he cower at the back of the locker room when strangers enter....bless the dogs and those who have saved their lives...

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDonalda Faulkner

I cannot keep my nose out of the book. Everyone involved worked hard with the dogs and I commend them. However Vicks should have had a longer prison time and maybe should have been made to do community service work with the animals. I had a hard time getting through the first couple of chapters, especially the parts in italic. I'm so pleased that most of the dogs are now enjoying life. I have my daughter's Pit for 4 years now. Friends of ours own an ice cream stand, and I take Remy there for about an hour or so one day every Sunday afternoon. She is socialable, lets both kids and adults pet her. When I get her harness and leash she excited. So in some ways I guess you could say she's become an Ambassador of sorts. It's people that give any breed a 'bad rap'. I've owned a mutt, a German Shepard, Chi/fox terrier mix, beagles, currently 1 boxer mix, a beagle and Remy who's the Pit Bull. Needless to say when my daughter came home with her at 8 weeks old I wasn't too happy because of the breed and what it might do to our homeowners insurance. When she was little, and tear around our small house, I nicknamed her the sliver bullet. They are totally a miss understood breed. Excellent job on the book, I would recommend it to anyone for reading.

June 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWendy

I haven't read the whole book yet...It's very disturbing, but also enlightening & important. If I ever miss rooting for the Eagles (I've been a diehard Eagles' fan for over 40 years), I just think about this book and what I've read and my resolve to do the right thing strengthens. There is no excuse for any human being to do what Vick and the other scumbags did and it wasn't a mistake or an accident. It was a pre-calculated series of actions of the course of many years. There was plenty enough time for Vick to come to his senses and stop what he was doing...But he clearly has no conscious and is only sorry that he got caught and his career and good life had to suffer. It kills me, but I can't root for the Eagles as long as Vick is the starting QB...Thank you for writing this book!

August 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I just finished reading The Lost Dogs last night! PHENOMENAL!!! Loved it! I have to say as a dog lover and a Pit Bull lover and owner of $ pitties it was hard to get through some of the pages, but this a story that everyone should read! Animal lovers, non animal lovers Vick lovers, and Vick haters all should read this book if for nothing else but to prove to the world that this breed are victims, and that even through the abuse, torture and neglect that these animals endured, they overcame. Some needed more help than others, and some still need a lot of work, but yet through it all they were willing to love again. Like Ceasar Milan always says dogs live in the moment. We can all learn a lot about life, love, and trust from these animals and animals like them about how to really live and love. We just need to pay attention!

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

sorry meant 4 pit bulls, not $ pit bulls.

August 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristen

Maybe you can do a book about kittens next. Here's a line: "Fluffy and cute, they stood at the apex of their lives, struggling to find the inner fulfillment that they once had. Their fear ravaged their every fiber of being. They didn't know if they would ever be accepted in society fully, but this thought tormented them night and day without remorse."

October 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEduardo

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