Posted: June 24, 2013, 5:10 p.m. EDT
Lucas, a battle-scarred fight dog once owned by professional football player Michael Vick, was euthanized last week because of declining health, Best Friends Animal Society reported.
The pit bull was thought to be 13 years old.
"There was absolutely no paperwork on these dogs, so the best we could do was estimate,” said Barbara Williamson, media relations manager at Kanab, Utah-based Best Friends.
Of the 47 dogs rescued from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels in 2007, 22 were sent to Best Friends, which affectionately named them Vicktory Dogs.
Lucas became a favorite of staff and visitors alike at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.
The federal judge who oversaw Vick’s dog-fighting case and authorized the placement of the dogs with rescue organizations, ruled that Lucas could never be adopted into a family because of his status as a champion fighter and his perceived street value. Lucas lived out his days at Best Friends, the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary, as a staff favorite and animal ambassador.
"These dogs represent a real watershed moment,” Williamson said. "This was the first time the courts allowed these [fight dogs] to have a second chance.”
Before the Vick
case, Williamson noted, fight dogs were euthanized because they were considered too damaged to live a normal life.
Eleven Vicktory Dogs have been adopted into families in a process Williamson called "very lengthy” given the animals’ history. Families can’t adopt a Vicktory Dog until they and the dog have been together for a six-month foster period.
"If everything looks good after six months, the adoption is finalized,” Williamson said.
Some of the dogs sent to other rescues became therapy animals, she added.
Lucas, the fourth Vicktory Dog to die, is interred at Best Friends
’ pet cemetery.
"His monument is the dogs he’s saved and the minds of people he’s opened,” Williamson said. "Anyone who ever met Lucas never forgot him.”
served 18 months in prison for his role in the dog-fighting ring, which was centered at property he owned in Smithfield, Va.
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