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Sports Illustrated features Michael Vick's pit bulls

January 6, 2009 |  6:58 pm

Meryl, one of the pit bulls rescued from the Michael Vick dog fighting ring, runs through an agility course at Dogtown - part of the Best Friend's Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah.

Sports fans might have been a bit surprised by the choice of cover girl on the most recent issue of Sports Illustrated.  It wasn't Anna Kournikova or Nastia Liukin but Jasmine, one of the pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick's Bad Newz Kennel.

So, aside from the obvious connection to the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, just how do pit bulls relate to the wide world of sports, exactly?  The article explains:

"A pit bull is like a Porsche. It's a finely tuned, highly muscled athlete," says [Stephen Zawistowski, an executive vice president of the ASPCA]. "And just like you wouldn't give a Porsche to a 16-year-old, you don't want just anyone to own a pit bull. It should be someone who has experience with dogs and is willing to spend the time, because with training and proper socialization you will get the most out of them as pets."

The pit bull's p.r. mess can be likened to a lot of teens driving Porsches -- accidents waiting to happen. Too many dogs were irresponsibly bred, encouraged to be aggressive or put in situations in which they could not restrain themselves, and pit-bull maulings became the equivalent of land-based shark attacks, guaranteeing a flush of screaming headlines and urban mythology....

Ten of Vick's pit bulls were taken to the BAD RAP rescue group in Northern California.  BAD RAP chronicles their progress on the charming and frequently-updated Vick Dogs Blog.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Meryl, one of the pit bulls rescued from the Michael Vick dog fighting ring, runs through an agility course at Dogtown, part of the Best Friend's Animal Sanctuary in southern Utah.  Credit: Molly Wald/Best Friends Animal Society.

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