If the names Cherry Garcia, Handsome Dan, Little Red, Ginger Girl, Lucas, Georgia, Mel, Ray, Hector (the Inspector), Jhumpa Jones, Audie, Frodo, Leo, Red, Stella, and others (52) are familiar to you, then you know who we are talking about when we discuss the Victory dogs (the formerly abused dogs of Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels) who are now either in loving homes or remain at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah (22 of the most traumatized dogs went to Best Friends originally). Ten of the most adoptable dogs were taken care of, socialized, and trained by Donna and Tim of BadRap in Oakland, CA who helped to find them great loving homes. Some have become therapy dogs. Others are just plain happy in homes with kids, other dogs and cats. And some have passed on (Hector, Leo, Red, Lucas, Georgia and others).
Now their story is being told in “The Champions,” a new documentary created by Darcy Dennett, which just made its world premier over the weekend at the Hamptons International Film Festival (HIFF), which for the first time ever featured a “Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights” program for filmmakers who want to share stories that will change the world and, hopefully, our relationship with animals for the better.
From the film’s synopsis:
The documentary The Champions, follows five of the dogs, from the time they are first rescued through their adoption. It is not just about the dogs themselves, but how they change and inspire the people who come into their lives. It also follows-up with six dogs who remain at Best Friends to this day, some of them for life. Thanks to the work of Best Friends and BADRAP, dozens of the dogs who would have summarily been killed were given a second chance to prove that even fighting dogs rescued from the most extreme circumstances can be successfully rehabilitated with love, time, and patience. That in fact, what many of these dogs need to thrive isn’t rehabilitation at all, but time to recover.
Today, a majority of the dogs have successfully been placed into loving, adoptive homes. Their story proves that even creatures who have suffered the most unimaginable abuse have amazing strength, spirit, and resilience. It is a story of the bonds of trust and love we have with animals and their importance in our lives, a relationship that has the potential to bring out the best in the human and animal spirit.
The film also touches on something that continues to hurt pit bulls and their families in general: breed discrimination. Hopefully it will help continue to dispel the myths that surround these dogs and open the hearts and minds of more people who will stop fearing and targeting them based on stereotypes.
The film trailer has premiered and is on the web site. Check it out!
The Champions, which won the annual Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless Award” at HIFF this year, will be screening at select locations throughout the U.S. over the coming weeks. For more info, check out The Champions.