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Kanab organization that cared for Vick dogs wants call from Obama

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KANAB — When President Barack Obama gave the Philadelphia Eagles a high-five for allowing quarterback Michael Vick to play again, it gave someone else a bright idea.

Best Friends Animal Society co-founder Francis Battista took in more than 20 of Michael Vick’s dogs and nourished them back to health. Now he would like a call from the president for his "Vicktory dogs," as he calls them.

"I wanted to bring some attention to these dogs who are sort of the forgotten piece of this whole conversation," Battista said.

Best Friends took in 22 of the least adoptable Vick dogs, and many of them have been transformed by the staff.

"They've been through a lot," Battista said. "They're amazing animals, they're a real testament to the spirit of these dogs and how they've rebounded and come back."

He doesn't know if the call will ever come from the White House, he just doesn't want the dogs to be forgotten, since they were the victims.

On the Best Friends Animal Society blog, Battista has written up what he would say if the president called. The conversation will start something like this:

“Mr. President, what a surprise! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to commend us for giving the Vicktory dogs a second chance. Sure, I’ve got a few minutes to fill you in … kind of a presidential briefing, I guess."

Five dogs have been adopted out, seven are headed to foster homes, and the rest are trying to earn their canine good citizenship certifications to prove they can get along with people.

On the blog, Battista says many of the dogs still at the sanctuary have health issues. Some have bebesia, a blood parasite that spreads among fighting dogs and flares up occasionally. He also says some dogs have immune problems, which veterinarians speculate came from excessive use of steroids. He does say, however, that the dogs continue to make progress.

Vick was sentenced to 23 months in prison. In 2007, he admitted he financed a dog-fighting operation out of his home and helped kill dogs that did not perform well in fights.

Contributing: Viviane Vo-Duc

E-mail: areed@desnews.com