KANAB, Utah, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Former football star Michael Vick's 47 surviving pit bulls have been dispersed to eight rescue groups in Utah and other states for rehabilitation.
The dogs were seized last April from the Virginia property of the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback in connection with an illegal dogfighting ring.
Many of the dogs are seriously scarred emotionally and physically, said Dr. Frank McMillan, veterinarian at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, where 22 of Vick's dogs are living, The New York Times reported Saturday.
Vick is serving a 23-month sentence in prison in Leavenworth, Kan., for financing the dogfighting operation and helping kill dogs.
Pit bulls seized from illegal fighting operations usually are euthanized but the government gave Vick's dogs a reprieve when he agreed to pay $928,073 for their evaluation and care. Just one was euthanized for aggressive behavior, the Times reported.
Many of the dogs are expected to be adopted eventually, said John Garcia, who cares for dogs at Best Friends.
"These dogs have been beaten and starved and tortured, and they have every reason not to trust us," Garcia said. "But deep down, they love us and still want to be with us. It is amazing how resilient they are."