‘Handsome Dan’ one of last Vick’s Bad Newz kennel survivors passes away

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“Handsome Dan” was compassionately put to sleep after suffering a debilitating stroke two weeks ago. As one of the 66 dogs, including fifty-one pit bull type breeds seized in April 2007 from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz kennels in Surry County, Virginia and taken to six different facilities and held as evidence, the plight of these dogs made national news.

Once evaluated, most of the dogs were never deemed aggressive, but only unsocialized and fearful.  One dog had been slated to be humanely euthanized because of health reasons, and  a small black female  so overbred, had been too aggressive to handle. Twenty-two dogs were assigned to Best Friends Sanctuary in Utah. The next largest group headed to BAD RAP in Oakland, California. The rest of the dogs went to different homes all around the country.

As for Handsome Dan, he was adopted in December 2009 by a family that has been inspired to create a pit bull rescue. On his Facebook page, the sad news about his death was posted early Saturday morning.

“By the time you are reading this, Dan will be gone. He suffered another stroke two weeks ago, this one worse than the last. By last week, he had stopped eating regularly and had lost weight and muscle mass, had no use of his back half of his body. When he was not sedated he was panting from stress, unable to settle. In his final days Dan was no longer responding to his human friends. He was defeated.”

And on Wednesday morning, surrounded by love, Handsome Dan died, but not before he had a perfect day.

“On his last day, Dan was allowed to drag himself around the house and yard (something he had wanted, but had been not allowed to do due to risk of further spinal injury), he went for a car ride, sat in the grass at the park he loved near his wooded trail, he ate three scrambled eggs, and settled softly on his spot on the couch. I sat with him, loving him with every cell in my body and every ounce of emotion in my soul, seeing it was time, sobbing, but knowing the best way to love him is to let him go. Dan left us peacefully on Wednesday afternoon.”

More than 300 dogs have been rescued because of Handsome Dan’s legacy. The farewell to him is included in its entirety below:

To My Dearest One,
Handsome, your presence in my life, the gift of your companionship, has been my privilege, my honor, an absolute blessing, every second. You have guided me, kept my heart safe. You have had a profound impact on how I chose to spend my time on this planet. In your name, over 300 dogs with medical/behavioral issues, and survivors of dogfighting, have found their place in this world which previously was a cold and lonely. Your needs guided me. Your spirit inspired me. You gave me purpose.
As you know, Handsome, I am not the strongest of humans. I feel things deeply, I break easily, and I generally choose a to spend my time quietly with you in our home. Thank you for being my One. Thank you for letting me snuggle you, for making me smile countless times. Thank you for the silliness that others rarely saw. Thank you for helping me be better for you, making me better for other dogs.
I will keep going. I promise. I pondered stepping away from rescue when this time came. Would I ever want to see another homeless dog? But I will, in your name the organization will continue. I will wipe my tears, walk back into shelters, find the most broken-down pathetic ones way in the back, smile, and remember you as I enter their cage. I will take you with me every step. Though I know the steps will be heavy and difficult. I will carry with me for the rest of time.
You have helped to change the landscape for dogs who suffered similar trauma. Thank you for the privilege of having been your person, and to sharing you though photos with the world, showing how far you have come from that initial dark place.
I hope I have done you justice, My Love. You have been more forgiving of our species than we could have ever been of yours. You trusted us when you had no reason to trust, when all that came before told you to run and hide. But you found courage, even if only inside of our fence, our home, with your small circle of friends.
I don’t know how tomorrow will look. I have no idea how to recover from this profound loss. What I know is that this is not about me, it’s about a you. So I will smile, hold you dear, continue to send you love to remind you what you have meant to me and my family.
Now I have let you go. You don’t need your body anymore, your work here is done. Be free from pain, and fear, and know I am forever grateful for every moment.
All My Love,
Rest in peace Handsome Dan. You certainly have made a difference. Follow the rescue group on Facebook here.

More news and updates on the National Pet Rescue Facebook page.

Poachers eaten by lions before they could kill rhinos – read the story here.

Heartwarming rescue of abandoned foal – read more here.

Our site is supported by stories from Shared.com

Dying man’s wish to find a home for his beloved dogs – read the story here.

Calf who escaped slaughterhouse joins a herd of deer – read the story here.


18 replies
  1. Gizmos Mommy says:

    That maggot scumbag vick the sick prick is still slithering around. The greed that rabid monster had did NOT magically disappear. There is never going to be justice as long as that POS opens its savage yap.

    My heart aches for Handsome’s passing, but I’m eternally glad he had many good years filled with love and kindness where people realized his true worth and inspired others.

  2. Adrienne says:

    I am sobbing while I read this about Handsome. Remember all too well about “Vick’s Dogs” and what would happen to them. This family gave Handsome the best life and I am sure was able to erase what had been his life before being rescued. Grateful to the families who did adopt these dogs as well as Best Friends Sanctuary in Utah and BAD RAP in Oakland, California for providing care and training for these dogs so they could be adopted. RIP Handsome, you people loved you with all they had and you returned that to them too.

  3. Jan Barnes says:

    Dearest Mama,

    A thousand tears and thank you’s for being the gift that you have been to Handsome Dan, and that you will continue to be to all animals. Remember, the animals don’t leave us–they go home to God. In the meantime, Handsome Dan will be watching over you every day and waiting for you with all his angel friends!

  4. pennysdachshunds says:

    Reading this Post this Sunday Morning was so difficult thru the tears that flowed & also it brought back the Total Hate I feel for that Son-of -a-Bitch Michael VICK!!!! He was a millionaire several times over SO it was NOT about MONEY the EVIL TORTURE , ABUSE , BRUTALITY, VICK and his PUTRID PARTNERS INFLECTED UPON these UNFORTUNATE DOGS : IT WAS and PROBABLY BECAUSE VICK WAS SPAWNED BY THE DEVIL HIMSELF… LIVE by the SWORD & DIE by the SWORD!!! MICHAEL VICK IS LONG OVER DUE to BE PUT DOWN IN A Swamp with the Reptiles that will devour HIS SORRY ASS!! He flaunts his haughtiness self around the Nation as if he is Royalty and the University that Name HIM to their Hall of Fame should be closed down … Vick Needs to be immortalized in A HALL OF SHAME!!! What a PUTRID BASTARD!!!

  5. susispot says:

    Such a lovely tribute to a beloved dog who’s life was so bleak before the rescue from the hell hole Michael Vick supported and participated in. RIP big boy.

  6. Nancy Raymond says:

    I want to extend my deepest condolences to the wonderful family who gave Handsome Dan a loving home – He went from being treated so cruelly to being a beloved family member. Please don’t grieve – you and Handsome Dan will meet again, he is just waiting for you.

  7. F Marion says:

    As I read this tribute to Handsome Dan, through tears of sadness for all animals, I encourage everyone to help all animals that have been abused and mistreated, if it is possible for you do so. So glad that Handsome Dan experienced human love and compassion from this wonderful family. R I P Handsome Dan, run free with other of Gods creatures! I believe you will meet again with this wonderful loving human.

  8. Barkley's Mom says:

    My condolences to Handsome Dan’s family. It is never easy to let one that has been such an inspiration and loving pet go. It took an Angel to rescue him and his legacy and will continue on. He was loved by many and will be missed. Bless his Moma and my happy memories of Handsome Dan, help heal her broken heart.

  9. Lynn Phillips says:

    The new owner supposedly cared so much about him but she is not the one holding him while the put him down is she? Must have been busy taking advantage of the photo op.

    • Cheryl Hanna says:

      The headline photo was not the photo when Handsome Dan was put to sleep. That was a personal moment between Dan’s family and this precious dog.

    • Billygzmom says:

      Are you serious? You should really know what you’re talking about. His “Mama” loves him more than she probably loves herself. If you knew anything about her, Handsome Dan, her work or the organization you’d know this was an old photo. I’d like to slap your ignorant ass.

  10. Ron says:

    This is the American Pit Bull Terrier
    Once you go pit, you never quit.
    My boy has truly made me a better person, a more charitable person. Every Friday at noon I stop what I am doing at work and take my pit bull to work as therapy dog in children’s hospitals, hospice facilities, children with autism in the reading program at the library, critical care units, and the airport to calm passengers stressed about flying. He’s helped thousands in the 3 years he’s been active and called “best of the best”
    He’s changed my life in the best way possible.
    This is the Great American Pit Bull Terrier.
    Rest in peace Handsome.

  11. Colleen Albert says:

    Song of Dog

    We’ve been family
    We’ve been best friends
    You’ve been my comfort, my joy
    We’ve played, cuddled and shared great meals together
    We’ve shared so many things
    You comforted me when I wasn’t feeling well or was afraid
    I protected you when you were asleep
    And protected your things when you were away
    We’ve been good for each other you and I
    But I’m tired now
    And I have other work to do
    So I must go
    Do not hesitate to bring others like me into your life
    You have so much more love to give
    And there are so many with nothing and no one who cares
    You’ll go on without me
    But when it’s your time
    When you’re tired
    And your work here is through
    When it’s time for you to pursue your greater good
    I’ll be here at the other end of the rainbow bridge
    Waiting to guide you into the light
    And once again welcome you home…


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