KANE COUNTY, Utah (WAVY) – One of the last remaining dogs rescued from former NFL player Michael Vick’s dog fighting compound has died, leaving a legacy of breed ambassadorship and changed hearts.
In a blog posted Monday by Best Friends Society CEO Julie Castle, she detailed the life of Meryl, one of the 22 dogs brought for rehabilitation to the Utah-based sanctuary.
Over 70 dogs, mostly pit bull terriers, including Meryl and the other 21 dogs brought to Best Friends, were rescued from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels dog fighting compound in Surry County, Virginia back in 2007.
In the blog, it described the “once troubled and frightened survivor” Meryl, who had spent her last remaining years at the sanctuary, transforming into “a loving companion to her caregivers, a friend to volunteers and a security blanket for other dogs learning to trust.”
Known as “Mama Meryl” at the sanctuary for her instinctive, somewhat matriarch-esque ability to be a support system for other troubled dogs, the long-time Best Friends mainstay had a complete turn-around from a distrusting and frightened pup to a loving, and resilient dogfighting ring survivor.
In her last days, Mama Meryl had suffered a “sudden and dramatic decline in her health” that put her in distress and discomfort, the blog said. Her caregivers along with veterinary staff made the difficult decision to put her down and ease her pain.
Staff and caregivers had dubbed the 22 Vick dogs as “Vicktory dogs” for their ability to transform and heal themselves and also helping to change the public’s perception of pit-bull type dogs everywhere.
Described as “the end of an era” at Best Friends sanctuary, Meryl’s passing as the last Vicktory dog at the facility was turned into a message of hope for the future as staff reassured the public to “never give up the fight to ensure that all homeless pets are treated with dignity and respect as unique individuals.”
“Together, we will Save Them All.”