Inspiring, heartbreaking, and hopeful, “The Champions” is exactly what your next Netflix night needs.
Cherry is an affectionate pit bull living with a family that loves him just as much as he loves them.
Little Red may be aging, but she loves to run and play with her family at her six-acre home in Wyoming.
Handsome Dan lives up to his name with an adorably square face and big brown eyes that have melted the hearts of his adopted family and everyone else who meets him.
Jonny is a happy-go-lucky little pup who uses his infectious personality to excel in his role as a therapy dog.
All of these dogs have unique personalities and live with different families across the country, but there is one common thread connecting them all: their lives used to be drastically different.
Cherry, Little Red, Handsome Dan, Johnny, and 50 other dogs just like them were once a part of NFL star Michael Vick’s illegal dog fighting ring.
“The Champions” is the inspiring story of how those dogs survived the deplorable conditions of the fighting ring and went on to send the world a message about breed discrimination, prejudice, and animal resiliency.
The documentary describes how PETA and the Humane Society of the United States labeled Vick’s dogs as “ticking time bombs.” They were saved from the ring, but the pit bulls that were bred for fighting were considered too aggressive and too dangerous to be released into society.
They were all expected to be euthanized, but the general public and animal welfare advocates had a different opinion.
Emails and phone calls fighting for the lives of these misunderstood animals flooded the prosecutor’s office. In the end, those voices won out. The dogs were finally recognized as victims, and the legal system agreed to give them a second chance.
The Best Friends Animal Society in southern Utah took in 22 of the most challenging dogs and began the long process of facilitating their recovery. No one knew whether or not they would succeed. The dogs had spent their lives tied to stakes and fighting for their lives in the ring. It was all they knew.
With the world watching, the entire breed’s reputation was on the line.
After years of patience, love, and dedication, those 22 dogs that were one step away from a death sentence have made tremendous progress. The large majority have been adopted by loving families, and they’ve all proven that it wasn’t rehabilitation they needed, but time to recover.
It was a trying journey full of setbacks and small victories, but it was a journey that has inspired an entire movement intent on breaking the chains of pit bull discrimination.
Cherry, Little Red, Handsome Dan, Jonny, and all the other dogs featured in “The Champions” tell a story of heartbreak, strength, and second chances. They’re living proof that, if only given a chance, fierce fighting dogs have the resiliency to overcome the abuse, brainwashing, and mistreatment caused by man.
“The Champions” can be downloaded from the website, and you’ll also find it in the documentaries section on Netflix. It tells a message our generation desperately needs to hear, and it’s hope for a brighter future for pit bulls everywhere.