One of Michael Vick's Dogs Finds a Safe, Loving Home. In Dallas.

mel dawg1 thumb 500x757 One of Michael Vick's Dogs Finds a Safe, Loving Home. In Dallas.

Richard Hunter has a new member of his household. That’s him, quivering in the corner. Shaking uncontrollably. Convulsing. The 4-year-old is still scared.

“He lives in fear,” Hunter says of his new best friend, Mel. “You would too if you’d been beating and traumatized your whole life.”

Michael Vick is out of prison and back in the NFL. But the dogs he tortured – the ones he didn’t kill, that is – will never escape his dark shadow.

“Mel’s come a long way. We can pet him. He sleeps in bed with us,”  Hunter says. “But he’s scarred for life. He’s never barked. Never made a noise. There are times when he’s just terrified.”

Hunter, who for years hosted a talk show on various Dallas radio stations and these days produces a daily podcast at, was outraged by the gruesome details of Vick’s dog-fighting ring. He ranted about how Vick should never be allowed to play in the NFL again.

“Prison or not, I didn’t think this guy would play another down,” Hunter says. “I never thought the American public would stand for this. In our small way, we wanted to make our statement.”

Hunter and his wife, who live in Dallas, have a 13-year-old Terrier named Pumpkin. But after reading the details of Vick’s own trial testimony about how the dogs were treated – hooked up to a car battery and electrocuted, teeth yanked out so they couldn’t bite handlers during sessions on a rape stand, hanging, drowning, thrown for sport –

the couple decided to adopt one of the battered and beleagured Pit Bulls.

That 18-month journey started when they contacted Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah.

Initially told no dog was adoption-ready, nine months later the couple underwent a federal background check. That was followed by a home visit from a case worker, then a visit – via car, on their own dime – to Utah where they lived in a cabin for a week and introduced themselves and Pumpkin to Mel.

Finally approved by the society and the judge who sent Vick to jail, Hunter had Mel hand-delivered by a case worker and a trainer in September. The trainer stayed in a Dallas hotel and visited Mel in his new home every day for a week before leaving.

“Shy is an understatement,” Hunter says of Mel. “Remember, he was used as a ‘bait’ dog.”

That means, essentially, that Mel was a canine piñata, beaten daily by Vick and his cronies to kill his fighting spirit. Once “de-fanged” of his will, Mel was thrown into a pit with prized fighting dogs who practiced their aggression on the hapless, defenseless – and, even worse, muzzled – bait dog.

“To consider what he went through, his resiliency is amazing,” Hunter says. “For the first couple years of this dog’s life every time he saw a human being [he thought] something terrible was about to happen to him.”

Give the assist to Pumpkin. The two dogs hit it off, with the elder sensing the fear in his new introvert friend.

When a stranger enters Hunter’s house, Mel freaks out. He grabs his monkey security blanket, slowly backs up into the corner and quivers. In front of him, standing as guard, is Pumpkin. And since Mel can’t – or won’t – use vocal communication, it’s Pumpkin who barks for him, often waking Hunter late at night to find Mel at the back door needing a bathroom break.

“While Vick is pure evil, this dog is so good despite having suffered through such hell that he’s truly changed my life,” Hunter says. “I can’t support a league that allows Vick to play in it.

“At the same time, Mel has enriched our lives beyond our wildest dreams.”


One Comment

  1. Vee says:

    This hurt to hear on The Fan what Mel went through. I can’t understand how a human being can do that to animals – especially domestic pet types like dogs and cats. I can’t watch him play. Sure he served his time, but the man needs some psychological help. We watch for children to be cruel to animals because that indicates a potential criminal mind – or at least unbalanced and sociopathic. I have a hard time watching him play football.

  2. BigBody says:

    Happy the dog survived! And at the same time, glad that Michael Vick is able to continue his career after serving his time. I hope that he’s had a chance to think about what he was doing.

    There are people dog-fighting all over Dallas, but I’ve yet to see anyone get taken down like Vick was.

    The product of his environment crap gets no play with me, because I’m black, I grew up watching crazy stuff go on in my ghetto-fabulous neighborhood, but I chose not to be tempted by those things and to look for better opportunities.

    Vick got better opportunities, but he continued his ways, and whatever is done in darkness will come to light. It was and now I hope he learned to put that foolishness behind him and to look forward to his career and family.

    1. Lori Francis says:

      Have to tell you that most serial murderers, who are sociopaths with no conscience start by abusing animals. I don’t care what you say, in my eyes Michael Vick should go through one day of similar treatment his dogs received…and then he should pay half of his outrageous salary to animal shelters. We as Americans are extremely gullible and forgive anything to a celebrity as long as they keep us entertained. Still disgusted by our attitudes.

    2. pittymom says:

      to bad the dogs can not enjoy the rest of their lives like old dicky vicky. instead they live in fear, pain . while that piece of s— is going on to live his same old life. all it says to our kids is “its ok what you do as long as you have the money to buy your way out, its ok to kill and injure as long as you can buy your way out.” i can wait for the day when he gets a serious injuty by another player, then maybe he will get a small taste of what he did to the dogs.

  3. jason says:

    good story, dont worry, vick will burn in hell for what he’s done, i’m looking forward to that.

  4. Mark Jenkins says:

    Dick should be commended for putting his money where his mouth is and adopting this dog! I was very dissappointed though. There was not 1 mention of the current puppy mills and dog fighting operations running.
    Dogs are currently suffering while he wasted prime radio time to rehash (a personal vendetta?) his contempt for Michael Vick.

    1. selwyn marock says:

      1000% correct Mark very little is being achieved to stop Animal Abuse by going after Vick,a bit like trying to get Hitler removed from power in 2010.The real life animal abusers are the likes of of “Mayor Hinklehooper of Denver”Mçguinty of Ontario these Scumbags are murdering 1000’s upon 1000’s of Family Pets.If and when Hinklehooper becomes Governor of Colorada,G-D Help the Pitbulls of Colorada.

  5. Ryan says:

    Good Story.

  6. Todd says:

    A child molester might be punished and then released for good behavior but still nobody wants to be their neighbor. Some crimes carry a social stigma far different from a judges’ gavel. In this case, much worse. The fact that Vick admittedly committed these crimes and served time in prison doesn’t make him innocent. Only punished. It doesn’t make him blacker, whiter, or more or less evil. People who bring race into this issue should be referring to the racial prevalence of this crime or embarrassed for his race that the association was made in the first place. Because of this racially motivated difference in opinion as to the severity of this crime no black persons opinion should be taken seriously in this case. It is socially more accepted to fight dogs in the black community and that is an unfortunate fact (Sorry Nate Newton). Michael Vick is what he is and there is no salvation for that from this community. Only penance. He served prison time but that doesn’t change who he is, just where he was for a while.

    1. Mark Jenkins says:

      ….no black persons opinion should be taken seriously in this case

      It’s comments like this that justify attitudes of racism in these cases.

      It’s is so obvious that there are many injustices in our legal system. Lindsay lohan does drugs, car jacks SUV’s, defies court orders, risks innocent lives by DUI , violates probation and can’t buy her way to jail for more than 4 or 5 hours. …..Paris Hilton, Robert Blake etc.

      Michael Vick was wrong but he did 2 years not in jail but Levensworth maximin security prison!! Where tin addition to punishment he received treatment. It appears to have been redeeming. (I wish we could have such good recitivist numbers for the thousands of sexual predators most of whom are White who hurt children over and over again…..) There may or may not be a bias but it seems lady justice is more blind at times! Thanks!

      1. BigBody says:

        What’s wrong with my opinion…I’M BLACK. The problem is people like you that only want to see color and that’s it.

      2. Mark Jenkins says:

        I’m Black also…that doesn’t mean you can’t make a sweeping statemen that ‘no Black person’s opinion should be taken seriously…’ That’s ridiculous.
        I re-read my comment …have no idea why you think I only see color…? I talked about inequality in the legal system based on race, money and celebrity.
        You seem to be prone to generalization with no logical or actual substance…tell me what you object to in my post. Thanks!

      3. Jim says:

        I would like to see scientific data regarding sexual predators. I image it is not more prevalent in one ethinic/racial group than another. But I am open to credible research regardless of the findings.

      4. Mark Jenkins says:

        There are a ton of statistical / sociological sources of crime stats. I was a sociology major in school so was familiar.
        BTW – my point isnt to point a finger at a race – just to show another poster how silly it is to say all of any race aren’t responsible for the acts of a few. Thanks!
        Here ar e some stats from the U.S. Dept. of Justice:
        Rate of child sexual abuse by race:
        White = 51%
        African American = 25%
        Hispanic = 15%
        American Indian/Alaska Natives = 2%
        Asian/Pacific Islanders = 1%

      5. BigBody says:

        Mark, my apologies, I read your first sentence and stopped, I failed to read that you were making someone’s statement your opening argument.

        We cool.

    2. Katie says:

      You know I’d say the opinion of the prosecuting attorney at the sheriff in charge of the case both mattered. They were both black.

  7. Aeron says:

    I wanted to call in but couldn’t because of work.

    Although the way this dog and every other dog that was in that situation was treated was horrendous, the media really needs to get off Vick’s back. Yes he did wrong. Yes he admitted it, Yes he was found guilty, and guess what, YES he served the punishment that the JURY decided for him. That means a group of citizens elected at random gave Vick a sentence that they thought was fair. He then served that sentence with no issue, was a model inmate. Since he has been released he has not done anything wrong. so until he does back off.

    I Love dogs and hate to see this type of thing happen. Funny thing about life is everyone messes up. He paid the price now leave him be.

  8. Kristy says:

    I think what you’ve done is so admirable, especially considering the “stigma” behind pits. I watched a documentatry on the National Geographic show, Dog Town. It was an in-depth look at the Best Friends Animal Society that rescued the most aggressive Michael Vic dogs, rehabed them and adopted most of them out.

    There was a female dog, named Georgia, who was the “prize” female dog. She was a prize fighter and was used to breed the champion blood line. When they rescued her she had no teeth and was scarred from head-to-toe. Originally, they thought she had lost her teeth to fighting, however when they examined her they found out her teeth had been pulled out . . . PROFESSIONALLY! They later discovered that she was “forced” to breed in a contraption called a “rape rack” where she was strapped in while male dogs were forced to breed with her. So that she wouldn’t bite the champion male dog, being forced to breed with her, they had her teeth pulled out! Georgia was legally classified as “the most dangerous” dog that Vic owned. A court order was put against Georgia and Best Friends was told that she could NEVER be adopted because of her aggression.

    The documentary showed the slow progression of Georgia and ultimately she has become one of the the most gentle animals they’ve had.

    And by the way, this story got press because of Vic’s celebrity, not the color of his skin.

  9. Lori Francis says:

    The fact that the American public is allowing this low life Michael Vick to continue to play football, and still be a “celebrity” is repulsive to me. You judge a man’s character by how he treats the most vulnerable. If he did this to dogs, what will he do to women and children? Disgusting.

    1. Kristy says:


    2. BigBody says:

      You think he’s going to get a string of women and/or kids and put them in a fighting circuit?

      Wow… i’m beyond speechless.

    3. Mark Jenkins says:

      …well what has he done to women and children? …nothing I know of.
      I don’t think most celebrities deesereve the prraise and adulation they receilve. I appreciate you realize it’s our (American public’s) own doing.
      I just don’t understand the emphasis on one person when so many other animals are CURRENTLY suffering. It’s like the OJ thing….tons of people were just distraught over his murders (and I do bellieve he did it) but they won’t cast a second’s thought on the 100’s of murders that happen daily!! It doesn’t make sense.
      Be outraged with Vick if you want but how about proportional outrage for the other animals that have been and continue to suffer.

      1. Katie says:

        Mark, it’s important to focus on these high profile cases because they are high profile. If the American public had made an example of Vick and said that they don’t accept his behavior and not allowed him back in the NFL, then that would make a much larger statement than telling some hoodlum in the ghetto that they can’t go back to their job at McDonald’s.

        Celebrities in trouble bring opportunity for change in public perspective. Unfortunately in this case and many others, it didn’t happen, though I’m sure many see dogfighting in a new light.

      2. MArk Jenkins says:

        Katie thanks for responding!
        I agree with your point that celebs can be used to make more dramatic examples….having said that..this is America and there should be some semblance of equality. Even Celeb.s deserve fair treatment …not used to make the legal systems job/responsibilities easier.
        More importantly, Michael Vick is the worst example you could choose. He was banned from football for several years 2 of which while he did time …not in a local or county jail but LEAVENSWORTH!! It’s a notorious maximum security prison. He remained banned from football after serving his time…reportedly as a model prisoner.
        Trust me – I don’t like defending Vick. I’m a dog/animal lover. …but I also try to be fair.
        ….wonder why no one will make an example of Paris Hilton or Lindsay Lohan? Thanks!

  10. selwyn marock says:

    I certainly am not a Vick Fan and what he did was despicable,according to HSUS he apparently is talking to youngsters and telling them the evils of dog-fighing so any help in this quarter is good as I do beleive that the justice system is treating Dog-Fighting as a Joke with their mostly ridiculous prison sentences.Animal abuse has to be treated seriously.

  11. Mark Jenkins says:

    …can’t seem to get a response to this question..I’ll try one more time….
    As awful as Vic’s actions were…….everyone is ignoring the animal suffering that has gone on and CURRENTLY is with 100’s of thousands of dogs! Richard Hunter didn’t mention one time the plight of dogs in pupppy farms nor forced to fight everyday!!
    HBO has done great documentaries of these places in existence now!

    If everyone is really so outraged with what Vic did why aren’t they just outta their minds with the pain that is CURRENTLY going on???? Thanks!

    1. Katie says:

      Mark, I have personally attended a dog rescue organized and led by Richard Hunter. You can look it up if you like… it was a few months ago. A dog that was holding up traffic on 635 in Dallas. I would put money on a bet that he does more for animals currently suffering than you think he does.

      1. MArk Jenkins says:

        Katie, You may be right. I’ve listened to him since the P! Wild Circus brgan….all the way thru his marriage at tthe whore house. But, he missed the opportunity to illuminate the bigger current problem while on a top 6 radio market iin the country! He only talked about his personal disdain for Vick. He never mentioned the current plight of 100’s of thousands of dogs…not once!
        I hate what Vick did too but I’m more concerned with the animals currently suffering…not 1 individual who spent 2 years in maximum security prison, lost millions of dollars and appears to have refrained from any further negative behavior.
        I question the true motives of people who are so focused on isolated hatred and ignore the larger sufferring that is ongoing. Thanks!

  12. Joanna says:

    I don’t have a pittie (unfortunately) but I do have a formerly abused dachshund/terrier mix who share all the same symptions of the abuse as your dog. Be patient…Mindi will now come to me in the house (not outside) and, finally, she will bark when playing with me in the backyard. I had her for over a year before all these wonderful things happened. I have faith that, some day, she will learn to trust me.

    Thank you for taking Mel into your loving home. I guess MV has paid for his offenses but he can never redeem himself with me.

    1. Marti says:

      I agree with what Joanna has said. Dogs show such unconditional love and forgiveness and with time, love and patience usually learn to trust again

      Like Joanna said, Vick can never redeem himself with me. Some day he will have to answer to a higher authority than the legal system.

      1. BigBody says:

        So will we all. And in that Higher Authority, know that one sin does not outweigh the other.

        Everyone talks of someone else’s problems as if they’re blemish free…

  13. MK Higgins says:

    I am so happy to see someone take in one of these dogs, and pray the others are someday so fortunate. I still cannot believe the NFL took Vick back, much less that he is a starting quarterback! It’s disgusting. As I sit typing I have my three babies here with me… my two rescue dogs and our one cat. I cannot imagine causing them pain, or fear…. it’s heartbreaking.

  14. EmilyS says:

    geez, people don’t even know what they’re talking about.
    Vick admitted to charges related to racketeering and was sentenced by a judge. There was no jury trial. He NEVER admitted to cruelty and to this day has NEVER admitted, or apologized in so many words for the horrors he personally inflicted on dogs like Mel.. all he says is that he is sorry for “what happened”.

  15. Richard Hunter says:

    Mark- I was booked to specifically talk about the Michael Vick case. We had about 15 minutes, which wasn’t enough time to tell Mels whole story, let alone cover all known puppy mills, dog fighting rings, etc. That’s absurd to suggest that would be possible, and you have incredible nerve to make baseless allegations that “question(able) (my) motives”. My motivation in doing the show was to encourage people to take a second look at how seriously they take Vicks threat to society through his actions with the dogs, thus exposing them to the particulars of the plague of dog fighting in general. Mel was a rescue, adopted from Best Friends, where many puppy mill dogs can be found. So, if the positive side of the story is adopt don’t shop, my dog came from Best Friends, it’s a great place, etc, don’t you think that is positive attention for the other dogs there that need forever homes? When a radio show plans a segment, they plan a theme with specific bullet points. There is a reason that you hear
    Nolan Ryan talking about The Rangers playoffs and my the first no hitter he threw on the 70s. Why? Because there is only so much time. Now, has your question been answered?

    Everybody go to Dukes in Addison today from 5-8. They are having a put bull party on the patio and you can meet alot of examples from a very misunderstood breed that need loving homes. I know some of them personally, and Iwould be happy to introduce you! -Richard Hunter

    1. Mark Jenkins says:

      Thanks for responding. I would love for you to show me where I said you need to cover ALL puppy mills….or any other universal statement…….please. You are a smart guy and shouldn’t appeal to such pedestrian tactics.

      It’s ironic, if you’d even mentioned the issues you just stated in 2 paragraphs…I would feel some good came from your interview. I know your dog came from Best Friends ’cause I purposely listened to your story on Pugs and Kelly’s show. Ir was very pertinent, well done and used a specific occurence to reflect on a larger issue.
      I have no idea where/why you thik I questioned your motivation. I know your sentiments cause I’ve listened to you on at least 3 stations so far. I do question the sentiments of so many people who hold such intrinsic hate for 1 man when there are thousands commiting the same and worst crimes….not 2 years ago but today!
      I was …and remain critical of your having a platform and not exploiting it to the fullest. I don’t question your motives….just the execution.
      Thanks for responding.

      1. Richard Hunter says:


        Your words:

        “He only talked about his personal disdain for Vick. He never mentioned the current plight of 100′s of thousands of dogs…not once!”

        This is where my point about the puppy mills/animal abuse in general comes from. It is reasonable to take from that that you wanted me to cover the story of “100s of thousands” of dogs in 15 minutes, in addition to the 66 Vicktory dogs that represent a much larger number of fighters.

        Your words:

        “I question the true motives of people who are so focused on isolated hatred and ignore the larger sufferring that is ongoing.”

        If I was exempted from the aforementioned “people”, it didn’t read that way, given that you took issue with me focusing on the Vick topic and not including breeder issues. Reread what you wrote with that thought in mind, and perhaps you will see the exception that I took to what you said.

        The greater point here is that this whole tangent is really silly. Why not come on here and introduce the valid and important issues of breeders/puppy mills, spaying/neutering etc. without criticizing other posters for not being all things to all people/animals in one single post?

        Your words:

        “I was …and remain critical of your having a platform and not exploiting it to the fullest.”

        This one is really going to drive you crazy then…This past July, when I was trying to rescue a dog trapped along 635, NBC News (an even bigger platform than The Fan) interviewed me about my efforts. I ONLY talked about that one dog. No mention of Michael Vick, let alone puppy mills. It would’ve even been on topic to mention spaying and neutering to avoid unwanted pets like the one I was trying to rescue, but THERE WASN’T TIME. The point of that interview was to focus attention on the dog on 635 that needed to be saved. Why can’t you get that?

        On my own show, I’ve done segments involving Operation Kindness where I do nothing but talk about how I will always adopt and never buy from breeders. Would you have found the same fault with me for not mentioning dog fighting in those segments?

        There’s alot of positive awareness in this thread, and while your point about puppy mills is absolutely valid and appropriate, I just don’t understand why the only way for you to raise it is by picking fights with people. I guess you could say that it is I who does not question YOUR motives, just your execution.

        Richard Hunter

      2. Mark Jenkins says:

        I never expected you to cover an entire issue in 1 segment…that’s physically impossible. The 100’s of thousands refers to the number of dogs being hurt…not the number of plights I expected you to talk about…..

        You take exception to how I bring the current and larger topic of abuse to light. I take exception to the fact you didn’t mention the bigger picture . I think the abuse plight is larger than HOW it gets introdiced. Could I have been more tactful – absolutely! …but the reality is no one was hurt, electricuted, shot or killed by my words. I think the current abuse situation deserves more than polite cordial talk.
        BTW – I didn’t include you in my earlier statement ’cause I know many of the good things you have done for animals. My position is in no way personal. I just think the issue is more important than you, me or Vick. Thanks!

  16. Amanda says:

    I commend this couple for taking in one of Vick’s dogs. This story of kindness and compassion has brought me to tears. Thank God for people like Hunter. This world would be a horrible place for any living being without those who express compassion for others, no matter how big, small, or “damaged.” Thank you Hunter, for being an extraordinary human being, for caring for something other than yourself. You are a true hero and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  17. Di says:

    Michael VIck didn’t get anywhere near the punishment he deserved for what he did to these dogs. He should NEVER have been allowed to return to the NFL regardless of whether he served time or not. Just because he’s a “big” football star and was unfortunate enough to get caught doesn’t make him any better than any one else. It’s too bad more people into dog fighting aren’t caught and convicted. People that participate in dog fighting are evil, cruel, despicable human beings. No defenseless animal deserves this type of treatment. Breaks my heart to think that a human would treat an animal in this fashion.

  18. Kate says:

    I have found several Websites with information about what has happened to dogs formerly owned by Michael Vick. Notice how I don’t call them “Michael Vick’s dogs,” because they were his in name only. Most of these sites only want us to know the positive side of the story. This story stands out for me because it says the truth—that while these dogs have found better situations, it’s still not all good. For me, Mel Hunter serves as a representative of abused animals everywhere, and not just the dogs. It is for all these animals that I can’t forgive Michael Vick or any other abuser.

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