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Jonny Justice: From Vick Dog to ASPCA Honoree

jonny_justice

Photo courtesy of Mark Rogers Photography

In 2007, the Michael Vick Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting case shocked the nation. 49 pit bulls were discovered on Vick’s property, all of them forced to endure years of abuse as fighting or breeding dogs–and, in some cases, both. Even the Humane Society of the United States and PETA suggested that all be euthanized. In their professional opinions, the dangerous dogs were surely too far gone for rehabilitation to help.

Thankfully, eight organizations across the country disagreed. Knowing this was their moment to prove once and for all that each dog deserves to be treated as an individual rather than the sum of their past or breed bias, these people worked together with the US government to thoroughly evaluate the Vick dogs. 48 were deemed either suitable for foster homes and eventual adoption or permanent sanctuary placement. Most have gone on to live happy, peaceful lives with some even excelling as agility and therapy dogs. One such notable case? Jonny Justice.

A black-and-white pit bull with a goofy grin and constantly wagging tail, Jonny demonstrated to his foster family early on that his capacity for love was endless. So much so that Jonny earned his Canine Good Citizen certificate and became a certified therapy dog, specializing in working with terminally ill kids as well as children in the Paws for Tails reading program at local libraries near his home. And this year, the ASPCA named Jonny the 2014 Dog of the Year. From the horror of Bad Newz Kennels to the happiness of life as a beloved pet and valued member of society, Jonny’s journey is both inspiring and proof of what a true hero can accomplish when given the chance.

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Lydia Lee lives in Seattle with two sweet, if slightly out of control, dogs. She loves reading, food, and the opportunity to make a difference.