The Acclaimed Documentary “The Champions” Tells The Story Of Pit Bulls Rescued From Dog-Fighting Networks


March 23, 2017 — For those who care about dogs, it is painful to realize that many dogs never live in happy homes among people who regard them as family members. It is even worse to realize that there are dogs who are deliberately mistreated.

The pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick’s dog-fighting network were among those who were never treated like loved or cherished creatures. Dogs who lost in the ring were killed by hanging, drowning or electrocution; winning dogs learned that ferocity and viciousness was the only way to stay alive. After they were rescued, authorities viewed them as hopeless causes, unsafe and un-adoptable.

All authorities, including PETA and The Humane Society of the U.S., recommended they be destroyed.


It is the standard procedure for badly abused and unsocialized dogs. And these dogs had come from an unspeakable situation.

But, in addition to a reputation for viciousness, pit bulls also have some very persuasive advocates. Bay Area Dog-lovers Responsible About Pit-bulls (BAD RAP), among others, are trying to rehabilitate the image of the pit bull, a breed they claim has no more tendency toward violence than any other if it is trained properly (and not abused). They have been type-cast in the roles of guard dog and attack dog; this image has made it difficult for them to get adopted. Those who care about the breed are fighting “breed discrimination bills” which ban the ownership of pit bulls in certain localities.

Advocates for the rescued dogs argued for sparing their lives and managed to save some of them. The Champions shows how some of these animals have learned to overcome their abusive pasts. With the help of the humans determined to socialize them, some of these creatures have gone on to form loving and significant relationships with their owners.

Variety stated “The five dogs spotlit here are winning personalities indeed… you’d have to be immune to canine charm not to be sufficiently entertained by the antics of the lucky dogs [director Darcy] Dennett gives major screentime to.” It continues, “The Champions” is unabashedly an advocacy doc, but one that never gets too preachy or polemical. It should have a long life as an educational and fundraising resource for likeminded organizations.”

The Champions is available on DVD (which comes with these bonus extras: heart-warming featurettes about pit bull playgroups, saving pit bulls in Los Angeles, the fight against breed discrimination, and special extended intro & PSA from Best Friends Animal Society) or Blu-ray, or you can stream it on Amazon Video.
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