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Dogging Michael Vick

July 19th, 2007 · 6 Comments · Activism, Culture, Film, Media, News, Pets, Politics

Vick’s pitbullThere have been a lot of scandals involving professional sports figures in recent years. But the federal indictment of NFL quarterback Michael Vick (of the Atlanta Falcons) on dogfighting charges is in a far worse league than the latest steroid abuse flap.

Here’s what the email I got from the Humane Society of the United States had to say about it:

Late [Tuesday], a federal grand jury indicted NFL star quarterback Michael Vick and three cohorts on felony dogfighting charges. It’s the latest disturbing news in a case that The Humane Society of the United States has assisted with since the alleged cruelties came to light in Virginia last April.

The abuses described in the 19-page indictment are almost beyond belief:

In or about March of 2003, PEACE [one of Vick’s co-defendants], after consulting with VICK about the losing female pit bull’s condition, executed the losing dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal.

In or about April 2007, PEACE, PHILLIPS, and VICK executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in “testing” sessions…by various methods, including hanging, drowning, and slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.”

The NFL expressed “disappointment” and said yesterday that “we believe that all concerned should allow the legal process to determine the facts.”

Well, that’s just not good enough. These acts were not petty or harmless; they were nothing short of gruesome and barbaric. And there is precedent for a suspension: Other NFL players, such as Pacman Jones and Chris Henry, have been suspended while they awaited trial and before they were convicted.

Unfortunately — sickeningly, in fact — as of today, the NFL is still sticking to its decision to let Vicks keep playing while the legal process plays out.

Falcons officials continued to huddle Thursday as they try to decide what — if any — action to take in the wake of Michael Vick’s federal indictment on dog-fighting charges.

The Associated Press reported that, after consulting with the Falcons, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and league officials agreed to let Vick play while the legal process determines the facts.

The NFL has made a contemptible decision here and they need to feel the heat.

Here’s a link to a page on the Humane Society’s site where you can read more about the case and send an email to the NFL demanding that they suspend Michael Vick.

Not too surprisingly, given their track record on human rights, Nike is behaving contemptibly as well:

Vick was ranked 24th in Sports Illustrated’s list of top-earning athletes in 2006, collecting $13 million in salary and $7 million in endorsements. He is sponsored by Nike, which has yet to weigh in on the situation other than releasing a statement Wednesday saying, “We are aware of the indictment. We have no further comment at this time.”

Nike has a history of maintaining relationships with its athletes even in the face of controversy. It kept its ties with cyclist Lance Armstrong despite persistent doping rumors, and with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant after his arrest for sexual assault in Colorado.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Sun-Times has a strongly worded piece today saying that the NFL needs to smell the coffee pretty fast:

Yes, it’s just an indictment for Vick, the Atlanta Falcons quarterback, and not a conviction. But the words in that indictment are just too hideous to look past, too sickening to forget.

”Dogfighting ring” sounds bad enough. But that’s a title, a label. These are the words that will sink Vick: He is accused of having ”executed the losing dog by wetting the dog down with water and electrocuting the animal.” That’s on Page 12 of the indictment.

… Vick cannot play in the NFL for a while. Maybe ever. I know, just an accusation. But commissioner Roger Goodell has a league image to consider. And Goodell has been championed as the guy trying to clean that image up.

This isn’t the same as Tank Johnson’s case, or Pacman Jones’, or Chris Henry’s. Those guys, all suspended, were repeat offenders.

This is much, much worse than that. Vick is a superstar, an individual in a league of helmet-covered faces. We will not look at Vick the same again.

The Sun-Times also had some hard words for another of Vick’s defenders in the NFL:

The league didn’t much need to hear from the Washington Redskins’ Clinton Portis a few weeks ago, either, when he told WAVY-TV in Virginia, ”I don’t know if he was fighting dogs or not, but it’s his property, it’s his dog.

”If that’s what he wants to do, do it. I think people should mind their own business.”

Portis’ comment is almost as disturbing as Vick’s indictment. These guys are both examples of this thug culture. Well, it’s worse than thug. It’s outrageous that anyone would try to defend this.

The only possible good that can come from this is if a broad segment of the public becomes more educated about the reality of animal fighting rings.

In general I love Wes Anderson as a director, and The Royal Tennenbaums is my favorite film of his. But there is a truly awful moment in that film where the rascally dad takes the grandkids to see a dogfight, and it’s played for laughs, like it’s kind of cute or something. That Royal Tennebaum, he’s just an old rogue! It nearly spoils the whole movie for me.

So anyway, I’m glad to see this issue getting some attention in the media.

Action link: The Humane Society’s page where you can send an email to the NFL.

Photo: One of the dogs seized from Vick’s property, from the HSUS site.

Spread the word:



6 Comments so far ↓

  • Aaron

    That’s OK…let him keep playing. What goes around, comes around, know what I’m sayin’? Karma’s indeed a bitch…and he WILL get his for this.

    What really breaks my heart is how scarred-up that dog’s face is in the photo. No wonder they’re so damned mean…

  • Ocelopotamus

    I hear you … but it’s not just about Vicks. It’s also about the NFL, Nike, and any other organization that weasels its way out of taking a stand on something as horrific as this. They need to be held accountable, too.

  • Connie

    Thank you for sharing this story.
    I wish society was more honoring of those who uphold a sense of humanity. Imagine how the world would be different if people were awarded millions of dollars for being kind to others.

    I actually didn’t like that movie even though I like the cast members quite a bit. Mainly, I didn’t find the father’s character funny. A lot of people are actually cold like that character.

  • Ocelopotamus

    You’re welcome, Connie — glad I could help spread the word.

  • amyc

    Revolting. What the hell is wrong with people?

  • Jane

    Yeah,Ii agree that it’s awful, inhuman, terrible, reprehensible, should be criminal, too. And I hope the publicity raises peoples’ awareness an iota at the very least. What troubles me personally, though, is that while I feel all of the above, I loved the movie Amores Perros, because despite the violence shown it had a heart,, embodied in the man who loved dogs. The fact that I could even watch is is what bothers me, I mean. But the old revolutionary’s love of the dogs redeemed the film. If the movie had condoned the “sport’ I’d want to protest it — but then it would never be a mainstream OR an “art” film, right?