An award-winning movie being screened in Waterville this weekend tells the story of animals who survived dog-fighting rings, and the humans who changed their lives.

Darcy Dennett graduated from Winthrop High School in 1988 and will return to Maine this weekend for the screening of her very special film 'The Champions.' The movie tells the horrific story of dog-fighting rings, including the one for which professional football player Michael Vick came under fire. As a dog-lover (or as we call it in our house, a 'dog-person), the story of dogs being forced into a life of violence, drugs, and the threat of death if they failed to perform, brought tears to my eyes. But as much as it would make me want to adopt every one of those animals, I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to take a dog that was raised in a violent situation into my home.

However, 'The Champions' is about the folks who dared. Who took the dogs in and loved them, nurtured them, and helped them to trust again. Seeing the victims of these horrific situations looking healthy, happy, and secure also brought tears to my eyes. But this time, they were tears of joy.

This Sunday, a screening will be held at the Railroad Square Cinema in Waterville of 'The Champions,' and Dennett told Central Maine News that she plans to travel to Maine and attend. No worries about whether the movie will be too violent. Dennett says she made a conscious choice not to show any of the actual dog-fighting, for fear that it would turn people away from the real message.

If you can't make the screening, the film is available to download for purchase online. Just be sure to have some tissues handy, and your furry friends nearby for lots of hugs.