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The Daily Need

Photo: A lover, not a fighter

Hector peers into the kitchen of his foster home in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2008. Photo: AP Photo/Eric Risberg

In 2009, Hector the pitbull became one of four dogs rescued from Michael Vicks’s dog fighting compound in Virginia to become a certified therapy dog. Hector now lives in upstate New York with Andrew Yori, the director of care and enrichment for the Animal Farm Foundation. If you’d like to see more video of Hector and his new life, visit his YouTube channel where you can see him play the slots in Vegas, make his bed and go rock climbing.

On Need to Know this Friday, we’ll discover what happened to Hector and some of the other dogs rescued from Michael Vick’s compound.

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    An unidentified Boston Marathon runner, center, is reunited with loved ones near Copley Square.
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    President Barack Obama sits on the famed Rosa Parks bus at the Henry Ford Museum.
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    Puppet theater
    After disappointing results in the Mississippi and Alabama primaries this week, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich vowed that his campaign would continue.


  • Guest

    What a face!

  • Candypinkkiss

    I love you Hector!

  • Birdmom999

    I met Hector at the No More Homeless Pets conference in Las Vegas in October. He’s smaller that I was expecting; maybe about 45 pounds. He is the sweetest boy. He was wearing his therapy vest and was loved on by many of the conference goers. If you squatted down to the floor, he’d lean right in giving kisses all the time. It was when he rolled over for a belly rub that I saw the scars across his chest and front legs. That sight made me choke up thinking about what he went through to get to where he is today. It still amazes me that these dogs were still so trusting of people that almost all of them are now living in homes with their families. Go, Hector!

  • Hilda Hurtado

    How wonderful to know that some of these wonderful creatures ended up in loving homes and that they have managed to overcome the horrors they were subjected to.

  • Maureencassidy

    Wonderful, heart-warming story. Thank God for animal rescuers!!! I am one myself and also have a rescued, now therapy, dog. She is the sweetest thing also.

  • shelter volunteer

    Thanks for informing your viewers, PBS! Animal shelters across the US are caring for thousands upon thousands of amazing pit bulls who need loving homes. The negative press & media bias have really hurt the dogs chances of adoption, so success stories (like this one) are so important.

  • Walksonair

    Hope people watch this, not just the breed lovers but also people who think they are nasty dogs. Gotta love em! Best pet/companion i could ever have.

  • Anonymous

    Pittys get such a bad rap. They are people loving sweethearts unless some idiot makes them mean. I love these dogs.

  • Zevon5

    Love you, Hector, Much happiness.

  • Tee

    there is a lil Pitty curled up on the chair with me right now…sound asleep…he does not know how lucky he is…he was a bait dog in Newark, NJ. He was thrown away because he wouldnt fight…..I love him….good for hector….

  • Lu9online

    Love you Hector! You are our Angel!! XOX

  • Dottiemom

    He’s a cutie. He was also featured in Melissa McDaniel’s Book. I adopted a deaf bully. She is a really good dog. Pit bulls are so misunderstood. Of course they can be mean and agressive if they are trained to fight and beaten so they will become viscious, or caged without companionship. ANY breed would become mean and viscious under these circumstances. And, bullys do have incredibily strong muscle bundles in their jaws and are basically powerhouses if they are kept in shape.

    As someone who has owned dogs all of my life, my bully is the least aggressive, toward people, that I have ever had. She’s a barker at other dogs and has to be introduced, but then she’s fine.

    I recently adopted another dog, a lab/ bully mix. The two of them play all dog long, like to buuls (no pun intended) in a China shop.

    Pit bulls do attack humans. This is true. All dogs attack humans. Pit bulls, because of their build and strength, could do more damage than some other breeds during an attack. When a pit bull attacks, I would bet everything I own that whomever owned or :trained: the dog did so with fighting in mind.

    Put down the owners, not the dogs.

  • Missy

    As the proud owner of a rescued, loving, beautiful, sweet pit bull (I could go on and on with the positive traits but . . .), I can honestly say that I have never been around a more intelligent dog. She is happy to please and we are happy to spoil her with love and good discipline. She respects all the deer in the yard (at least 10 at a time every day) and the cats, dogs and people in the neighborhood. She whines to go play with all of them and has never been aggressive in a mean way. I hope these dogs get the reputation they truly deserve some day and not the bad one they have now. God bless all you animal lovers, but especially the selfless folks who love the APBT for the RIGHT REASONS!!!

  • Paq_86

    I love Pit Bulls… they are the nicest, sweetest dog I’ve ever had. Just rough looking, but super soft on the inside with the biggest hearts for the people they love. They have such a bad rap! People should remember the dogs come out the way the owner treats them!

  • blue

    I just adore pit bulls. They are the most amazing and loving dogs. And such clowns! Thank you for doing a piece about these dogs. We hear enough about their torturer but not enough about the dogs and what they have accomplished.

  • blue

    I just adore pit bulls. They are the most amazing and loving dogs. And such clowns! Thank you for doing a piece about these dogs. We hear enough about their torturer but not enough about the dogs and what they have accomplished.

  • Colleen

    Thank you for portraying this story as it is important to get it out there that pit bulls as well as any other breed has good and bad. They are like people in that respect some good some bad and some indifferent. They need to be treated individually not as a group. Thank you so much for increasing public awareness.

  • Sue

    My pit is such a sweet baby. He won’t even take his treat til I pet him up. He doesn’t join in the neighborhood barkfest, but no stranger can come on our property without our pit alarm letting us know. He doesn’t even chew up toys. And he is always on his back looking for belly rubs. Love him!

  • Skdesign

    Pitties are intelligent, loyal, affectionate, sensitive, intuitive and beautiful athletes. Historically humanity has both admired and exploited these attributes in all living things. Hopefully this (mass prejudice) is one time where we will actually learn from our mistakes.

  • Kim

    What a sweet dog. Without a doubt there will be a hot place in hell waiting for Vik.

  • Phil Ter

    I cried yesterday as I heard the story about a 10 year old boy in Arizona City who had been attacked by three pit bull, Rottweiler mixes when he got off the school bus as his kindergartener brother watched. It was reported that half his face was torn off by one dog. He was rescued by a neighbor who used a baseball bat to beat the dogs off. It took over a minute to drive the dogs away. The rescurer stated that the boy would have been killed in another couple minutes of attack, the boy told the man “I don’t want to die” as they waited for an ambulance.
    The dogs dug out of the yard of a person who is reportedly an animal control employee. Perhaps that person had them for “rehabilitation”.
    I don’t doubt that individual pit bulls can be “sweet” but just as a 9mm pistol is more lethal than a .22 caliber, these fighting dogs have the ability to cause much greater harm than a smaller dog. The Vick dogs could have been put down for a hundred dollars and they would not have suffered a bit. The funds spent on rehabilitation or sequestration could have been used to care for the innumerable abandoned pets in shelters or even for medical care for dog attack victims like the Arizona City boy who will require extensive reconstructive surgery and who will face a lifetime of emotional pain.
    I love my little shepard mix which I got from the Maricopa County Animal Shelter several years ago. But I don’t forget that she is not a human.

  • Sijay22

    What a terrible thing to happen to that boy in Arizona. I do want to point out that just because a person is an animal control officer, does not mean he had the best interest of the dogs to rehabilitate them. It is obvious that he was an irresponsible owner. Dogs, of any breed and size should never be left unattended or out of view in a yard. You are right in saying that animals are not human, but if someone makes a commitment to care for an animal, maybe they will do better in treating them like part of the family by letting them “live” in their home (inside) and playing with them or letting them do their business outside. If dogs are not accustomed to being around people and trained to know how to behave around people, then what can someone expect of a dog left outside to live without any interaction. In any species, human or not, you find those that are good and those that are bad and you must look at them each as an individual not as a whole. After all, those who judge a whole group rather than individuals are of the same sort that believe in racism, sexism, religious persecution and so on. People with open minds and hearts are those that will truly make a change in everyday life and things as unimportant to you as a pit bull. The story about the boy is awful and I agree it happens all too often, by pit bulls and other breeds alike (many times misclassified btw). The dogs need to be punished accordingly, however, they are a product of their environment created by their owner and circumstance.

  • journeygirl63

    I have been around many different dog breeds. The only dog bite I have received was from a golden retriever that I had known for a while. Any animal with teeth can bite. Any animal treated with love can return that love.

  • magmatic123

    just another article that exploits the next man for past wrongs

  • Jrmnutra

    How completely ignorant you are Phil. Isolated cases should not affect an entire breed. Pit Bull attacks make the press because they are the “IN” Breed to attack. Same as your german shephard and Doberman were in the 70′s and the rotties were in the 80s. Your German shephard has the same power Bite as a Pit bull and they are naturally more aggressive towards humans.
    Learn about the Vick dogs before you comment on them. They were not fighting dogs. They were puppies that Vick tryed to breed to fight and they wouldn’t, Hence they were tortured by him in dispicable ways.
    Pitbulls are actually one of the best dogs with Children. In the early 1900s the were called the Nanny dog. Do your research bud. Learn the facts. Your comments about a MIX breed dog and how it pertains to pit bulls is truly sad.

  • Sara Andrews

    People kill more people than any other animal. Under that justification I could deny help to abused humans because other humans are violent. Clearly the animals in your first story were the irresponsible owners of those dogs, NOT the dogs.

  • Abrownsgal

    I think this story is completely inappropriate to post here. This is an isolated event. We get that you are not a true animal person, but this not the forum to discuss this topic. I also feel bad for your dog.

  • michele dow


  • michele dow

    michael vick sucks shit! and just because you did something AWFUL, and some time passed does NOT erase what u did! vick knew what he was doing was wrong or it would have not been a secret in a remote location…he also would not have denied it…if he thought it was legal and he was allowed to do it. he IS SORRY, sorry that he got caught and all of the world could see that he is a monster! i hate him with every part of me, and i dont feel badly about that! there ARE bad people in this world, and that piece of shit IS one of them…and for those who stick up for him…well u r just one of the bad seeds! i despise him, and i am sad that because he occassionally plays some good football many were quick to ignore and forgive him…how pathetic, who gives a crap about football??? i was wearing a hateful michael vick jersey in Detroit’s airport once. this ugly ass black man came over to me…obviously the ignoramous could not read… i was NOT promoting Vick…(paleeeeese), quite the contrary…anywhooser boy tried to use my shirt as a pick up …NOT! i told him to please get away fromme because my meds were weearing off, and i was feeling violent! :) funny to watch the crapper scurry away! :) lol good memory!

  • mp

    You do not own a bully breed and probably never have met any, so you do not know anything! My opinion is, your racist and should not own any animal because to you they arent your family; they are just a DOG. Keep your mouth shut! Because people like you are the ones who ruin the world for your ignorance. I will give you a little FYI- what the real problem was the creation of man who destorys everything that he touches. There are real people with emotions & who really care about all dogs, but for there individuality; no dog animal deserves anything but what man has done by the type of enviorment, back yard breeding, and not giving a shit about anything but there Entertainment. You obviously find these dogs to be scum and could care less about anything. I bet you think that its silly that this pathetic human was even charged for the crime. Vick should have been punished far more then what he recieved.