Former Michael Vick dog dies from cancer
By LARRY PARSONS
Herald Staff Writer
Posted: 04/07/2010 01:29:20 AM PDT
Updated: 04/07/2010 01:29:20 AM PDT
Red, a pit bull who came from the infamous dog-fighting world of Michael Vick to become a sweet-tempered mentor to misbehaving Monterey County dogs, died this week while battling cancer. He was 8 years old.
"He just really blossomed," said Beth Brookhouser, community outreach director for the SPCA for Monterey County. "He was like a regular employee, a friend and a fellow staff member."
Red was one of three pit bull terriers who came to the Monterey SPCA after federal authorities seized 47 dogs when they raided a dog-fighting compound at the NFL quarterback's Virginia home in April 2007.
Red, who arrived with scars on his face, chest, legs and torso, was adopted by SPCA pet behavior specialist Amanda Mouisset and became a much-beloved family dog, at ease with children, dogs, cats and, especially, comfortable couches.
He made the daily rounds with Mouisset and helped her training by providing a calm, unflappable model dog in the company of less serene canines.
"He would sit there, looking bored, looking off into the distance," Brookhouser said. "If another dog was acting aggressively, he would sit there — totally calm."
The other pit bulls that came to the local SPCA from Vick's dog-fighting case — females named Ginger and Bunny — are still on the local scene and doing well. One was adopted by a SPCA staff member and the other is with a foster family.
They drop by the SPCA center regularly, but didn't become part of the fabric of the place as did Red.
"We love them all, but Red definitely won everybody's heart," Brookhouser said.
He was friendly and affectionate — not in an overbearing way — and a regular tail-wagger.
"Nobody could believe his back story," Brookhouser said.
Red was diagnosed with cancer in 2008 and underwent surgery and chemotherapy (paid for by Vick as part of his sentencing). The cancer was in remission, but Red took a turn for the worse last week, and tests showed the cancer had returned.
Aggressive treatment would have given him only a few more months. He was euthanized Monday. That could have been Red's fate in 2007 right after the dog-fighting raid.
"Before this case, dogs from the kind of situation were automatically euthanized," Brookhouser said. "Red is a stunning example why animals should be treated as individuals — not lumped as a breed. He was the best ambassador for that breed any of us have ever seen."
Larry Parsons can be reached at 646-4379 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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