A statement released by PETA today (as members and others picketed outside NFL headquarters) reads:
In the wake of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick's indictment on charges related to dogfighting, all of Vick's corporate sponsors, Falcons CEO Arthur Blank, and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell received a joint letter this morning from hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons, civil rights leader The Rev. Al Sharpton, and PETA President Ingrid E. Newkirk roundly condemning dogfighting and other forms of violence.
Dogs who survive these fights often sustain serious injuries, such as broken bones and crushed cartilage, and many suffer and die from blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or days after a fight. The statement calls on people not only to condemn an NFL superstar for his alleged participation in this illegal activity but also to work to end dogfighting in our local communities.The recent media spotlight on dogfighting reminds us of society's callous disregard for the suffering of animals and disrespect for sentient beings. We hope that Michael Vick is not a product of this insensitivity that runs through our society.
Whether through the Hip-Hop Summit Action Network, the National Action Network, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), we believe in being agents of social change who responsibly and proactively fight the war against poverty and injustice and against ignorance and cruelty. Our battle must extend to those innocent animals who literally have no voice or choice.
Whether Michael Vick is found guilty of dogfighting or not, he is one person amid a much larger struggle. The real front lines in the war against dogfighting exist in our local communities, and this war is being fought every day by animal protection groups, community leaders, and law enforcement officials.
If anything, the above statement is too damn mild.
Twenty-seven-year-old Michael Vick is a star player with the Atlanta Falcons. Fast on his feet and with a strong arm, Vick is the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL and a favorite with fans.
A grand jury indictment alleges that Vick and three associates were running a kennel for breeding and training dogs for fighting. The indictment alleges that Vick and the men hosted dogfights, crossed state lines to sponsor dogs in fights for prize money, and executed several dogs that did not perform well.
Recently PBS conducted an interview with Wayne Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States, and Bobby Brown who who wrote and directed "Off the Chain," a 2005 documentary about dogfighting.
Read it and scream:
WAYNE PACELLE, Humane Society of the United States: You know, when the Humane Society of the United States was formed in the 1950s, it was predominantly a rural phenomenon. We've seen in the last 10 to 15 years a real surge in urban dogfighting, with rap culture really driving interest in pit bulls and people kind of treating the dogs as a macho display.
It's very hard, because as you indicated, it's widely criminalized -- 50 states ban the activity -- to get solid numbers. We're estimating, you know, 40,000-plus people involved. So you have the participants, the handlers. Then you have people who are interested in it as spectators, as well.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, Mr. Brown, you did this documentary. The dogs themselves are specifically trained for this, correct?
BOBBY BROWN, Director, "Off the Chain": That's correct. I mean, the dog has the instinct, fighting instinct. I found that 90 percent of the time, the dog is animal aggressive, not people aggressive. You can walk up to any dog in the backyard and pet the dog. But the dogs are placed on chains in the backyard. And the only socialization that they have is their handler coming in and feeding them.
And the first test that they get is called a game test. It's called "off the chain," which is the documentary is named after, is when they, five, six months into the dog's life, they take the dog off the chain, and they put it on another dog for about five or six minutes. And if the dog wants to fight, they'll put it back on the chain and let it get a little older. If it doesn't want to fight, it doesn't pass the game test, and it's euthanized.
JEFFREY BROWN: You were just telling us before we started here that the longest fight you ever witnessed was two hours and 45 minutes. And these go on a while. What does it feel like? What is it like when it's happening?
BOBBY BROWN: Oh, it's horrifying. You know, the dogs are ripping apart at each other. They're like silent warriors. I mean, there's no sound at all. They're just engaged in a lock, and they bite, and they shake, and they take and engage on another part of the body, and they just stay there and lock for a long time, and they won't let go.
The match that I saw that was two hours and 45 minutes, the dogs actually were so exhausted they fell asleep engaged with one another. And they finally woke up. When one woke up, the other one woke up, and they started fighting again.
WAYNE PACELLE: And, you know, it's almost always pit bulls. They're 50 pounds, usually, sometimes a little less, but they're a mix of endurance and power and speed. And they can kill any other dog in the fight, so they match them against one another.
And as he indicated, it's just a horrific fight. They just keep going; they keep coming at each other. But the sad thing about it is less about the pit bulls but about the people. The people are enjoying this activity and being titillated by the blood-letting.
It is to be noted dogs used in these events often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days after the fight. Other animals are often sacrificed as well. Some owners train their dogs for fights using smaller animals such as cats, rabbits, or small dogs. These "bait" animals are often stolen pets or animals obtained through "free to good home" advertisements.
So yeah, I say Michael Vick has got to go...and go to jail as well.
The following is from the Charleston Daily Mail.
PETA protest urges NFL commissioner to "sack" Vick
While Commissioner Roger Goodell was meeting with officials of the ASPCA, about 50 people urged the NFL to "Sack Vick'' today in a demonstration outside the league's headquarters following the indictment of Michael Vick on dogfighting charges. "Sack Vick!'' chanted the demonstrators, organized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals as they walked peacefully in front of the Park Avenue building. Many held dogs who had the "Sack Vick'' signs on their backs and one woman brought a pit bull, the breed killed in the dogfighting operation the Atlanta quarterback is accused of sponsoring.
The leaders of the demonstration focused on Goodell's one-year suspension of Tennessee's Adam "Pac-Man'' Jones under the NFL's personal conduct policy, although Jones, a former West Virginia star, has not been convicted of any crime. "We think they should do the same with Michael Vick,'' said Dan Shannon, an assistant director of campaigns for PETA. "We don't think their 'wait and see' attitude goes far enough. If they suspended Pacman Jones, they can suspend Vick.''
The NFL said after Vick was indicted Tuesday, it was watching legal developments in the case. Vick is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday in federal court in Richmond, Va. The NFL said today it agreed "dogfighting is cruel, degrading and illegal. "The alleged activities are very disturbing, and we are extremely disappointed Michael Vick has put himself in this position,'' NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in a statement. "We are having extensive dialogue with numerous groups and individuals, including the ASPCA, and are reviewing all of our options to deal with this as quickly as possible.''
Sherry Ramsey, a staff attorney for the Humane Society of the United States, said he was disappointed at the league "wait and see attitude'' regarding a possible Vick suspension. "There is a precedent in the Jones suspension,'' she said. Ramsey said her organization wrote to the NFL in May, offering to work with the league help educate players about dogfighting. She said it did not receive a reply. However, two letters written June 21 by the NFL to the Humane Society, provided to The Associated Press by the league, said warnings on animal fighting and animal cruelty are now being included in the annual briefings by the league security staff to players.
Those briefings will take place at all 32 training camps this summer. "We are in total agreement that there is no place for animal cruelty and illegal animal fighting and take very seriously the allegations of dog fighting against Michael Vick,'' Peter Abitante, Goodell's personal assistant, wrote nearly a month before Tuesday's indictments. "We certainly do not condone this activity and will not tolerate cruelty or mistreatment of animals. If Mr. Vick or anyone associated with the NFL is found to have violated state or federal law, the commissioner has stated publicly that he will impose significant discipline under our personal conduct policy.'' Earlier this year, the NFL began working with the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals on programs and public service announcements to educate players and the public on the importance of caring properly for animals.