Pit bull survivor immortalized in plush


After a tough start victimized as one of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs, pit bull Jonny Justice has bounced back as a therapy dog and kids’ reading advocate.

Now, Jonny’s cuteness and courage has carried him to victory in a contest to have his likeness turned into a stuffed animal by the famous Gund folks.

Thousands of online voters picked the black-and-white San Francisco resident as the winner of Gund’s Top Dog contest, held on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest this summer. An Australian shepherd named Finnegan and a couple of others gave Jonny a run for his money, but couldn’t muster enough support to dethrone the smallish pit bull.

Rescued in 2007 from a life of fighting under NFL quarterback Michael Vick, the charismatic Jonny ended up with Cris Cohen, a volunteer for pit bull rescue and advocacy organization Bad Rap.

Jonny passed the American Kennel Club’s temperament test and was certified as a therapy dog. Cohen and Jonny volunteered for a reading program called Paws for Tales for 18 months, teaching kids not only how to read, but giving them a positive breed example to balance the overall negative bias against pit bulls.

Things were going great until a Burlingame librarian banned pit bulls from her facility in 2010. Though Jonny and Cohen had never appeared in Burlingame, the pair withdrew from the program in protest over the breed-specific ban.

Kids and adults alike will be able to pick up Jonny’s fuzzy likeness sometime in 2013.

Jesse Garnier
Jesse Garnier is the editor and founder of SFBay. A Mission District native, he also teaches journalism as assistant professor at San Francisco State University.

Giants welcome back Mota with open arms

Previous article

Fake cop sought after sex assault

Next article

You may also like

More in News