Showing of ‘The Champions,’ story of fighting dog rescue, life after Vick

ST. GEORGE — “More forgiving of our species than we could ever be of theirs” is the fitting tagline for a documentary film about pit bulls rescued from former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring in 2007.

Vicktory dog Little Red with Susan at the March 11, 2013, reunion at Best Friends Animal Society, Kanab, Utah | Photo by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News
This March 11, 2013, photo shows Vicktory dog Little Red with her adoptive owner Susan at a reunion at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah. Little Red and Susan are among the dogs whose stories are told in the 2016 documentary film, “The Champions.” | Photo by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News

The Champions,” produced and directed by award-winning filmmaker Darcy Dennett and featuring the work of Best Friends Animal Society, will play at The Electric Theater in St. George Aug. 26, the final screening in this year’s DocUtah@TheElectric series.

In all, 47 dogs were taken in the 2007 raid of Vick’s compound according to the grand master’s count, Best Friends spokesperson Barbara Williams told St. George News in 2013.

The court then allowed Best Friends to take 22 of the toughest cases on the society’s proposition that the dogs could either be rehabilitated or at least deserved care and feeding for life.

The storyline of “The Champions” follows five of those dogs from rescue through adoption.

“It is a story of second-chances, redemption and hope,” the film synopsis says. “This uplifting documentary takes us on a journey about much more than just dogs – about prejudice, being misunderstood, the power of resilience, and the significance of the relationship we as humans have with animals.”

  play-arrow Watch film trailer top of this report.

When making the film, Dennett said, she was still nervous being around the dogs even though there was a growing sense that they were the victims.

“In the beginning I was fearful while filming with them,” she said. “I consider myself to be relatively brave, but it seemed like good common sense to use extreme caution while filming in a closed ‘run’ with a pit bull rescued from a notorious dog-fighting case.”

This 2013 file photo shows six adoptive families and their "Vicktory dogs," so-named for rescue from the Michael Vick dogfighting organization indicted in 2007, at a reunion at Best Friends Animal Society's Angel's Landing. The event offered a media display of recovery, rehabilitation and hope. Kanab, Utah, March 11, 2013 | Photo by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News
This 2013 file photo shows six adoptive families and their “Vicktory dogs,” so-named for rescue from the Michael Vick dogfighting organization indicted in 2007, at a reunion at Best Friends Animal Society’s Angel’s Landing. The event offered a media display of recovery, rehabilitation and hope. Kanab, Utah, March 11, 2013 | Photo by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News

DocUtah Executive Director Phil Tuckett credits Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab for making the difference in the lives of the pit bulls.

“No one gave these tragic animals a chance to lead normal lives in a loving environment. No one except the Best Friends Animal Society,” Tuckett said. “The tag line for the documentary …, ‘More forgiving of our species than we could ever be of theirs,’ truly encapsulates the almost miraculous rehabilitation of these dogs and the love that brought them full circle back into the company of humans.”


See more: Michael Vick fight dogs today: ‘Vicktory’ dogs, ambassadors of hope – March 2013 reunion at Best Friends; story and video


Best Friends had taken on difficult dogs before in its almost 30-year history, but this rescue was its biggest challenge yet. The society was placing its reputation, and that of the entire pit bull breed, on the line.

“Prior to the Michael Vick case, the traditional, historic treatment of dogs from fight busts was simply to regard them as damaged goods and to kill them,” Best Friends co-founder Francis Battista said. “All along, we’ve been advocating for them to be given a chance. Our experience has shown that there’s no need to be afraid of the dogs or blame them just because of the situation they came from.”

The seventh season of the DocUtah International Documentary Film Festival runs Sept. 6-10. It will feature 62 films on a variety of subjects representing filmmaker submissions from all over the world. Learn more here.

Event details

  • What: DocUtah@TheElectric screens “The Champions” 
  • When: Friday, Aug. 26, 7 p.m.
  • Where: The Electric Theater, 68 E. Tabernacle St., St. George
  • Admission: $10 | tickets may be purchased at the door or by reserving tickets online.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

3 Comments

  • .... August 21, 2016 at 4:41 am

    This is a very special group of people that have come together to help save and rescue animals from people that have no right to own animals of any kind. ..Hip Hip Hooray ! keep up the good work ! God bless you all

  • Anejo August 23, 2016 at 1:32 pm

    It’s a great documentary and well worth the admission fee, providing some of that money is going towards the sanctuary itself.

    Failing that watch it on Netflix, and donate the $10 to P.A.W.S 🙂

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.