Dog seized from Michael Vick recovers in Oklahoma

Wednesday, September 17th 2008, 5:16 pm
By: News 9

By Audrey Esther, INsite Team

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The conviction of former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick for conspiring to run a dog fighting operation was one of the most publicized animal cruelty cases ever. Officials seized about 50 dogs from his property and most have spent the last year on the long road to recovery including a pit bull named Alf.

"It's a very humbling privileged place to be to get to help out these dogs," said local dog trainer Molly Gibb. 

Gibb, who lives near Arcadia, specializes in training pit bull terriers. A few months after Alf was taken from the Vick property, Virginia officials asked if she could help. The 3-4-year old pit bull has been in Oklahoma since March.

"When I first got him he was starting to understand that he was safe. Harm wasn't necessarily going to come to him, so he was starting to trust human beings more," Gibb said.

Rehabilitating a dog like Alf is an ongoing and continuous process.

"Not because there's something wrong with him, but it's because if I want to do the best job I can do I need to be paying attention all the time," she said.

Alf also receives training in Stillwater with other dogs and animals, including a horse.

It's not likely Alf was used as a fighting dog, Gibb said, because he has few physical scars. He was however afraid of loud noises, sudden movements and people holding objects. He was also scared of things over his head, such as ceiling fans.

"We human beings have really got to get it together," Gibb said. "We've got to reduce this abuse and violence."

Physically he had severe problems with his legs.

"His legs are actually underneath him. Before they would never be underneath him, so he couldn't sit. It was impossible to sit," Gibb said.

The exact details of what happened on the Vick property and what happened to Alf may never be known, but Gibb says it's not important.

"I don't have nitty gritty details on this dog in particular," Gibb said. "We can make conjectures but I think it's enough to know that there was horrible abuse." 

As for the concern others have about pit bulls, especially pit bulls with a past like Alf, Gibb says no one should make assumptions. 

"Who are they really to be suddenly an expert in pit bulls or experts in animal cruelty issues? What are their qualifications and who are they?" Gibb said.

Alf should be available for adoption soon. It's possible Gibb will adopt Alf herself and said he would be a great working dog.

"It would be very hard imagining not having him in my life," she said. "And my other critters wouldn't like it."

Vick and three others were charged with crimes related to Bad Newz Kennels in 2007. He pleaded guilty and is serving time in federal prison.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.