Two days ago, I had a chance to speak to an amazing person, Brandon Bond – world-renowned tattoo artist, savvy businessman, and someone who has dedicated his not inconsiderable celebrity to rescuing those whom our society has deemed unfit to so much as exist. I am talking about pit bulls, and to a lesser extent, Michael Vick.
Brandon believes in second chances. Having given one to me after royally screwing our initial interview, you can see why I am inclined to believe that.
Explaining his philosophy, he spoke of his own less than savory youth, and of his wife's, who is now a recovering addict and clean for the past 10 years. Brandon himself is the CEO of four thriving businesses, and the author of five books and six full-length DVDs. If anyone knows how to turn his life around and make the very best of himself, it is this man. Now he wants to give back to the world.
He is realizing his humanitarian ambitions by rescuing pit bulls. He has rehabilitated and adopted out over 300 of them. He has six of them himself – loyal, unfairly branded dogs. One of them is formerly Michael Vick's.
He remembers when the news came that police had raided Vick’s dogfighting camp. There had been 47 dogs there.
They were lucky that the criminal charges had been leveled against someone so high profile as this NFL great. If it wasn't for that, chances are these dogs, just as in many similar cases, would have been put to sleep once they ceased being useful as evidence. The counties, in which the arrests happen, usually lack the resources to rehabilitate the very victims the authorities claim to protect, so they are euthanized.
Not so the "miracle dogs," as Brandon calls them. He managed to use the outcry to get in and get these dogs out. Of the 47 rescued, only one had to be put to sleep, and that only due to a terminal cancer. Another died in car accident (a new movie, Vicktory to the Underdog, which Brandon is premiering in Vegas's Palms casino on March 14th,
devotes a segment to it). The remaining 45 are fine. They, unlike many such dogs, have gotten their second chance.
Brandon hopes that Vicktory to the Underdog, while appealing to a segment of our population that might not be moved by PETA and Animal Planet appeals, will also generate enough funds to offer the same precious chance to many more dogs, dogs that might not belong to a high profile celebrity, via the work of a pioneering organization, Villalobos Rescue Center, focused on rehabilitating both criminals and dogs by helping them to readjust into more nurturing roles.
Nurturing and natural, at least for the dogs. A case in point is Petey, the Little Rascals dog. He was a pit bull, and there had been no reports of any violence on set. Brandon told me that pit bulls, while strong, are not born with violent temperaments or dangerous lockjaws, and were actually referred to as nanny dogs. Moreover, the first Congressional Medal of Honor bestowed upon a dog during World War II went to a pit bull.
So, where does it leave the human element of the rehabilitating bunch? Getting back to second chances, Brandon believes in offering them to everyone – even those, such as Michael Vick, whom animal rights activists should be naturally wired to despise.
Michael Vick has lost everything. He is in jail, possibly contemplating what a slim chance he has to make it back into the NFL big leagues. If you listen to Brandon, Vick should be given that chance, if only Brandon could spread a new message, one that would go out to the kids still idolizing him, still keeping his bobblehead dolls by their beds.
Whether he truly believes it or just follows his attorney's advice isn't of great importance to Brandon. The need to raise awareness of the issues surrounding pit bull breeding, traits, and dogfighting is what prompted him to get in touch with Vick's attorneys regarding the football player becoming a part of Brandon's campaign.
According to Brandon, though, the lawyers are playing it safe. They want to first preview the movie, and then they will let him know to what extent their client might want to become involved. One of a thousand tax-deductible limited edition DVDs will begin making its way to Mr. Vick's legal representation. Who knows? Perhaps their client will pick Villalobos as his community service site. At least, Brandon knows he has extended the invitation. What Mr. Vick plans to do with his second chance is up to him.
Brandon will continue his work. There are already plans for a subsequent movie that would expand on the happenings in the city of Denver and its recently passed breed-specific legislation touched upon in Vicktory to the Underdog. There, Brandon intends to showcase the true — and admittedly unconstitutional — scope of what such legislation mean to us as responsible pet owners paying the price for the mistakes of the few.
Dogs torn away from crying kids, parents possibly thrown in jail for daring to stand up for a pet deemed to appear at least 51% pit bull, and euthanized animals not being allowed to be buried within the city limits are just some of the topics Brandon is intending to cover, not to mention the lack of tangible proof of such measures in any way reducing the incidence of dogfighting-related activity in such an over-legislated hell.
With breed-specific legislation on the rise in Kentucky, Georgia, and Florida, I am intending to make the time to watch Vicktory to the Underdog and its sequel, too. I am certain I won't be the only one. Considering the big names making it to Las Vegas for the Vicktory premiere and charity event — Tera Patrick, Micheal Berryman, perhaps, even Ice T, to name a few — I imagine the reception for his next release should be equally spectacular.
As for me, I can only wish him, and all the rescued dogs, the very heartfelt best!