Friday, August 24, 2007

Vick Takes Dogfighting Plea

Michael Vick during an Atlanta Falcons news conference.In a Richmond, Virginia, court today, the Atlanta Falcon's 27-year-old star quarterback, Michael Vick, filed papers including a signed plea agreement and written allocution to prosecutors in regards to a federal dogfighting investigation.

According to court documents, Vick said he did not gamble during dogfights. He did, however, admit to bankrolling the gambling operation and to participating in the killing of at least six dogs. The original charge was listed as "Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fighting Venture," and is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine. There is speculation that Vick will be sentenced to between 10 and 18-months in jail based on recommendations by prosecutors on the case. The judge is not bound by any recommendation or by the federal sentencing guidelines. U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson had earned a reputation for handing down stiff sentences, even to high-profile defendants. However, "tough but fair" is the description most often heard from lawyers who appear before Hudson, who owns a Bichon Frise and has declined to be interviewed.

If you wish upon a star . . . Oh, c'mon! It's a fake photo, a JOKE, get it?Three co-defendants -- Purnell Peace, 35; Quanis Phillips, 28; and Tony Taylor, 34 -- have already accepted agreements to plead guilty in exchange for reduced sentences. Last April, Vick and two of the co-defendants apparently met to test the fighting skills of the dogs. The three agreed to kill six to eight dogs that did not perform well. All of the dogs were killed by various methods that included hanging and drowning.

Vick is scheduled to plead guilty on August 27th in Richmond's U.S. District Court to a conspiracy charge related to dogfighting. Prosecutors for the state of Virginia have said that additional state charges may be brought against Vick in the future.

Michael Vick with puppy. We wonder where this little pooch is now?In a related interview in an Atlanta newspaper, Michael Vick's estranged father says he tried to get Vick to quit dogfighting years ago. Michael Boddie said that around 2001 his son staged dogfights in the garage of the family's home in Newport News, Va., and kept fighting dogs, including injured ones, in the family's backyard.

Boddie dismissed the notion that Vick's longtime friends were the main leaders behind the dogfighting operation. "I wish people would stop sugarcoating it," Boddie told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "This is Mike's thing. And he knows it."

For more information and links of interest, check the Orlando Sentinel.

For the visual results of dogfighting, visit this EnviroLink Forum page.
WARNING: The linked page contains disturbing images.

Editor's Note: We assume this means that instead of the dogs he kept, Michael Vick will be the one caged or chained-up most hours of the day. He'll be allowed outside for supervised exercise and it will be he who will be watched through the cell bars by people and their [guard] dogs. There may even be some gambling on who will win any fights that Vick may have with other inmates. Turn about is fair play, dogfighting isn't ! ! !
From beasts we scorn as soulless,
In forest, field and den,
The cry goes up to witness
The soullessness of men.

                        ~M. Frida Hartley

1 Comment:

Animal Chaplain said...

If there is anything good about the Michael Vick story, it is that there is an emerging increased awareness about animal cruelty and animal fighting. There is so much anger about this issue. If we channel it into a positive direction, hopefully, something good can come of it. However...

I watched Vick's public apology with my little son who USED TO wear Michael Vick jerseys to school. It is disturbing to think a certain percentage of the population is honestly going to be swayed by Michael Vick's "enlightenment" carefully crafted by his overpaid attorneys. Call me a cynic, but I don't believe a man who has been allegedly torturing animals since childhood coincidentally has a religious epiphany as a result of getting caught and losing his job. I hope I am wrong.

I think it is a sad commentary that we, as a culture, are using the Vick story to compare "What's worse?" "What's worse", we ask, "carelessly fathering illegitimate children, or dogfighting?". "Dogfighting or gambling?" "Dogfighting or rape?" "Dogfighting or racism?" "Dogfighting or hateful nationalism?" "Dogfighting or (fill in the blank)....?" The comparisons to dogfighting have been endless.

Dogfighting is one more piece of evidence our country is in need of a spiritual transformation (please note I said spiritual and not necessarily religious). Animals are sentient beings - they feel pain, and they suffer, just like we do. They are not more important, or less important than human beings, but like human beings, they are important, too.

Dogfighting pits one dog against another until one of them dies. The survivor gets his flesh torn off, ears ripped off, eyes pulled out, etc., and the reward for being "a winner" is to writhe in pain until the next fight. Enough said. The pictures make my flesh crawl. The losers are tortured, beaten, starved, electrocuted or drowned. For what? Because these poor creatures were unlucky enough to be born a dog!

Every major faith teaches its followers to be responsible stewards of animals and the Earth. Please help us get the word out that caring for animals, just like caring for people, is an important part of just being a decent person and citizen. If we make this a priority, there will be no more dogfighting horror stories, and no more pointless comparisons of evils. Let us all rise, together, to be better people than we are today, shall we?

Chaplain Nancy Cronk