Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Vicktory dog Lucas update

I love reading anything about the fate of the Vick fighting dogs,
so here is a follow-up of one of them for you to see that these
dogs were worth saving.
Please read this article from Best Friends and visit their site. 
Maybe you could even consider a monetary donation to help
these dogs?  I know I did and I feel quite good about doing
my part to help them.

April 12, 2011 : 9:35 AM ET
By Cathy Scott
The adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” could not be truer
when describing Lucas, one of the 22 former Michael Vick dogs
who arrived at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary more than three years ago.

A pit-bull terrier with telltale battle scars and one of the toughest
backgrounds imaginable, Lucas is one of the most popular of the
Vicktory dogs (as they are now called).


The life of neglect the Vicktory
dogs led before coming to the
Sanctuary has caused some of
them to have chronic medical
issues. While their emotional
and physical scars continue to
heal, some of their more serious
medical issues are not apparent
to the naked eye.

Ten-year-old Lucas arrived at
the Sanctuary with a condition
called babesia, a blood parasite
that can be passed between
dogs through deep puncture
wounds, like those inflicted
during fighting. The condition
can be managed with medication, but one of the side effects
of babesia is anemia. When Lucas’s anemia worsened, he was
given a full checkup. Tests showed that he was having other
complications in addition to anemia. After exhausting other
methods of testing and to take a closer look at possible masses
seen on ultrasound, he was scheduled for exploratory surgery.
Late last week, several masses were removed from his enlarged
spleen, which are being biopsied. While undergoing surgery,
the veterinary team also took a biopsy of his liver which
looked abnormal.

“Surgery went pretty smoothly,” says
Dr. Patti Iampietro, who performed
the procedure. “Lucas is doing well.” But,
she adds, he’s still in recovery and “not
out of the woods yet.”


Lucas is improving with some help from his friends.
Now in the midst of recovery,
he is improving with the help
of our medical staff and
everyone who loves him.
He has many friends across
the Sanctuary and fans who
have followed his story.

Life for sweet Lucas truly began the day he and
the other 21 dogs landed in Angel Canyon, a
world away from the horrific lives they once knew.
Lucas, who was court-ordered to spend the rest
of his days at Best Friends, is proof positive that
dogs who have known only neglect and abuse can
begin anew and be the loving companion animals
they were born to be.

John Garcia, a trainer and manager at Dogtown,
where canines live at the Sanctuary, first met Lucas
when John traveled to the facility where the Michael
Vick dogs were kept before moving on to rescue groups, i
ncluding Best Friends.

“I was helping one of the employees there mix food
one morning,” John says. “[The employee] had
mentioned that he had always been afraid of pitties
from a fighting background, so he was terrified to hear
he’d have to work with the Vick dogs.”

But the caregiver’s face lit up when he spoke about
Lucas. “He told me it only takes one to change your
views,” John says. “This was an amazing thing to hear,
that someone who was afraid of a certain breed had
the courage to still work with [the] dogs. And to put it
so simply — it brought tears to my eyes. This truly
shows how dogs like Lucas have influenced people
all over the world and how much animals in general
can teach us.”

Lucas, the consummate optimist

Once at the Sanctuary, with
patience, one-on-one training
and ‘round-the-clock care,
the dogs, many of them
frightened, gradually
acclimated. Lucas, the
consummate optimist,
hit the ground running.
He’s done so well, in fact,
that he spends part of his
time in the offices hanging
out with executive assistant
Brenda Escher and chief
executive officer Gregory Castle.
At the end of the workday visits,
he returns to Dogtown.

A few weeks after arriving in January 2008, the Vicktory dogs
were introduced to the world at a news conference held on the
Sanctuary grounds. Many of the dogs were shut down and
scared because of their past. Not Lucas. He welcomed visitors
with kisses, surprising national media with his resilience. As
caregiver Carissa Hendrick said at the time, “He knows he’s safe.”

“I think Carissa was right that Lucas did feel safe here,” says
Dogtown manager Michelle Besmehn, “but I also think that
Lucas is just a confident dog. It is part of his nature.”

Lucas, simply put, is happy, and that is what Brenda says
stands out the most for her.


Lucas helps out at the office.

“When some visitors come
into the office and sit down,
he welcomes them by 
jumping onto their laps and
lavishing kisses on them,”
Brenda says. “That tells
me that he’s not the menacing,
dangerous dog that far too
many people feel his breed
might be. He only wants to
be loved. We all are better
people for having had the
experience of having him in our lives.”

For Dr. Patti, his easy nature is also what has
touched her: “The thing that stands out most
to me about Lucas is his overflowing love of
people. He is so kind and gentle despite what
humans in the past have put him through. It
really teaches a lesson in forgiveness and
understanding that we humans should strive to equal.”

Michelle agrees: “We can learn a lot from him.
He has been a very happy dog despite his
background and despite all of the ups and
downs he has had medically.”

Dr. Patti says, “It is always a rewarding feeling
to help any animal, but helping those animals at
Best Friends who have no one else, especially
a dog like Lucas who came from such a
horrific background, is especially fulfilling to be
able to play a positive role in his health and happiness.”

The clinic team continues to monitor his progress
while waiting for the biopsy results. Updates on
his condition will be shared as we know more.
Brenda visited Lucas after his surgery and spent
time just sitting with him. “He recognized me
immediately, and I think he’s the trooper we
all know him to be,” she says.

The gentle side of Lucas, despite his past, continues
to inspire those who know and love him. “His joy
for life and a can-do attitude are something we
can all strive for,” says John. “Lucas really
does symbolize the American dog Despite a
very difficult past, he is affectionate and forgiving.
We are all pulling for him to get better.”
Photographs by Best Friends photographers
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