Update: What do you think would be a fair plea bargain? How about 15 years working 15 hours a week in a public animal shelter? To give your answer click on comments below.
by Deborah Parkhill Mullis
Obscene gestures and other misconduct aside, Michael Vick’s reputation has taken another hit. This time he is accused of aiding in the gross abuse of man’s best friend.
Beyond the bodily harm and senseless loss of life suffered by those dogs directly involved in the case; the reputation of pit bull dogs has been scarred again, too.
On July 17, a federal grand jury indicted the star NFL quarterback, who was in the third year of his 10-year, $130-million-dollar contract with the Atlanta Falcons, for his alleged sponsorship of an interstate dog fighting scheme.
Atrocious acts of animal cruelty outlined in an 18-page government document (available on-line) and reports regarding co-defendant, Tony Taylor’s, testimony appear particularly incriminating for the 27-year-old celebrity.
However, on July 26 Vick pleaded not guilty to interstate gambling charges as well as charges of rearing pit bull dogs for competitive fighting at Bad Newz Kennels and hosting dog fights on his Moonlight Road property in Smithfield, Virginia.
If found guilty in November, the millionaire football player faces $350,000 in fines and could receive a career stopping six years in prison.
Local dog lover’s defend man’s best friend, bark about Vick
Vick’s innocence or guilt has not been determined but one thing is certain - like one of his alleged fighting dogs, Vick is now under attack. Dog lovers across the nation have jumped to defend man’s best friend. Below is the reaction of local dog lovers. (Quotes have been edited for brevity, clarity and repetition)
“My personal opinion is that laws should be more strict and punishments more severe to any one who purposefully hurts an animal.“ - professional pet-sitter, Indian Trail, NC
"I am both appalled and disgusted … I believe that the lawlessness and sheer stupidity of professional athletes has been tolerated for far too long. (If found guilty) I hope Vick is suspended from the NFL, convicted and has to serve jail time. The fact that he claims he didn't know what was going on in that home is ludicrous. I am saddened for the dogs who lost their lives in a vicious and brutal way and the monsters who did this should be severely punished. Our society needs to stand up for the voiceless ones and put an end to this horrific 'sport' ". - foster care provider for animal shelter dogs and also works with a breed specific rescue, Charlotte, NC
“I have a son who loved Michael Vick. He was a big Falcons fan. Thank goodness he is old enough to realize how cruel and serious this is. I can only imagine how it would be if he were younger - how much confusion it would cause - that all of a sudden (Vick) is not a hero but an (alleged) criminal on trial. If children follow the case on TV and see that people and organizations are defending him, that only adds to their confusion. Anyone who is in the public eye and knows they are adored by children should act accordingly.” - volunteer with an animal rescue organization, Rock Hill, SC
“(If found guilty) He deserves to go to jail and absolutely should be let go from the NFL. I am glad that his endorsements have been pulled and that he is unable to attend football practice. There is no place in society for people who do not respect the rights of living things!” - animal shelter volunteer, Charlotte, NC
“My feeling is that pit bulls are the best dogs in the world if they are properly trained and socialized. They are obedient, protective family-oriented dogs. I‘ve had lots of different dogs over the years and this breed is a very good breed if brought up the right way. My dogs are loyal and would lay down their life to protect me but they are not aggressive to the point that they are going to run outside and start shredding up other animals. They run around my house with cats, children and other dogs,” - pit bull dog owner and proprietor of a pet care and pet grooming facility, Waxhaw, NC
“Michael Vick is a very young man who can certainly learn from this experience. I wish he could come spend time in the animal shelter environment where he could find out first hand that fear, hunger, happiness, contentment and more move on four feet as well as two.” - certified professional dog trainer, Wingate, NC
“Vick's example is proving to be a useful educational tool to build awareness around the heinous activity and conditions of dog fighting.” - husky owner, Charlotte, NC
In conclusion, there is no denying that as a nation we cherish our pets and are passionate about animal welfare. It is also evident that as a nation we place a high value on entertainment. We reward people for their ability to amuse us in acceptable ways. Gifted artists, athletes, authors, comedians, media personalities, musicians, etc. can become rich because of our country’s value system. But in America we also value the golden rule; we expect our millionaire celebrities to give back and have grown accustom to their generous funding of humanitarian causes. This is all the more apparent by the intense public outcry over Vick’s alleged sponsorship of such blatant inhumanity.
To see the devastating results of organized dog fighting click on the link below:
(Warning: this video is not appropriate for young children.)
Parkhill Mullis writes about dogs for newspapers and magazines and on-line.