Survivors of Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring will visit Pacifica this weekend.
Three of the NFL player's dogs will be at from 1p.m. to 4p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21, to promote the launch of Philadelphia-based portrait photographer Melissa McDaniel’s new book, “Pit Bulls & Pit Bull Type Dogs – 82 Dogs the Media Doesn’t Want You to Meet” and to raise money for Oakland-based non-profit BADRAP, a rescue organization for Pit Bull type dogs that formed in 1999 to fight euthanizing the animals in the Bay Area and to combat negative stereotypes about the breed.
The dogs, Jonny Justice, Teddles and Uba will be posing for photos and giving paw print “autographs” at the event. BADRAP brought them to the Bay Area with ten other of Vick’s dogs, all subjected to his dog fighting operation, after a federal judge in Virginia cleared their release. Local families adopted all 13 dogs.
Since their move to the Bay Area, each dog earned its Canine Good Citizen Certification, an award given by the American Kennel Club to recognize dogs that have “good manners at home and in the community.” Jonny went on to become a therapy dog for learning disabled children struggling to read.
McDaniel first began photographing Pit Bull type dogs when she volunteered at her local shelter.
“I admit I was a little hesitant around these dogs at first since I had never spent much time around them and I believed the negative media hype,” she said. “However, after the third or fourth pit bull type dog I photographed wanted nothing more than to wag his tail and lick my face, I quickly realized that the media has it all wrong.”
She travelled around the country photographing 82 dogs for her book.
“Ever since I decided to create a series of photo books on dogs, I knew I would be devoting an entire book to pit bulls,” she said. “You only have to visit your local shelter to understand why.”
BADRAP Director Donna Reynolds said that McDaniel’s work is powerful beyond words.
“Watching Melissa work with the dogs was fascinating,” she said. “She drew out their joyful natures and just poured their personalities into her photographs. These photos can probably do more to help the public see the souls of these dogs than just about anything we could ever hope to say or do.”
For a while, Pacifica became ground zero of the controversy over the breed when a family pet Pit Bull his pregnant owner last year.
Suggested donation at the event is $5. It begins at 1p.m. and ends at 4p.m. at Annabee's in the Pedro Point Shopping Center.