Michael Vick, NFL quarterback, was running an illegal dog-fighting ring and raising “fighting dogs” at his appropriately named “Bad Newz Kennels.” When information about his crimes came to light, the dogs were seized, as evidence, and spent many months in isolation in an animal shelter. In the past, fighting dogs were considered dangerous and people thought they were not good prospects for rehabilitation. In the case of Vick’s dogs, however – probably because the case was so high profile and received a lot of media attention – animal rights groups and concerned citizens got involved and the dogs were eventually tested for temperament. Out of 49 dogs, only one was deemed unsafe. The rest were sent to live in foster homes and other shelters where they received obedience training and learned to live and interact with people and other animals. Audie was one of the lucky dogs who found a foster home (and later a forever home) with some very patient and understanding people. His new owners thought he would be a good candidate for agility training and competition, and he was until they discovered he had knee problems. Audie needed surgery in order to correct his knees. After several months of rehabilitation, Audie was able to compete. This children’s picture book follows Audie through his rescue, touching lightly on the darker details of the dog-fighting underworld in a way that will impress upon young readers the seriousness of the situation without horrifying them. Beautiful photographs of Audie and some of the other rescued dogs add interest and engender empathy for the abuse and loneliness they suffered before getting a new leash on life.
* * * * Stars Reviewed by Karin Thogersen, Young Adult Librarian