Advocacy Overdrive - Vick – Fair Shake or Shake Down?

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Obviously as a dog lover and a Pit Bull advocate my bias is towards the dogs in the Vick case. Which for the most part, for those dogs that made it out they are doing well, if not downright amazing! Vick on the other hand seems to be carrying the stink of his past to the Philadelphia Eagles.


There are a few key factors in the Vick case that get glossed over or are forgotten.


In the media the line is that he “backed a dog fighting operation”, which makes it seem bad and all, however Vick admitted to drowning, hanging and electrocuting dogs. That is not just about dog fighting, the actions Vick participated in were on the sociopathic side of the human psyche. Jim Brown on 60 Minutes reminds Vick of this and he says “he knows it was wrong”.


As Ali Phillips of American Humane Association says in my interview, there was “no court order for physiological counseling”, “and that’s sad” she adds. In addition 60 min. brings up the fact that Vick has lawyers who “handle his appearances”, though he states that his words are his own. I’m skeptical of his words and so far even less confident in his actions.

One thing I am sure of is that Mike Vick got a sweet deal for killing dogs.

Comparatively, athletes and celebrities get preferential treatment in dog fight cases and animal abuse cases they are involved in even within the same case. Take a look at this case…


Former NFL player LeShon Johnson and National Basketball Association player Qyntel Woods. Johnson was first arrested for dog fighting in 2000 in Osage County, Oklahoma. Prosecution was deferred on condition that he give up his dogs and stay away from dog fights.

He was arrested again in 2004 after a series of raids on alleged dog fighting venues in the vicinity of Holdenville, Oklahoma. Thirty people were charged with related offenses; 225 dogs were seized.

LeShon Johnson, his brother Luther Johnson, and Luther Johnson's girlfriend Shevetta Lee were allegedly found in possession of 68 of the dogs.

The alleged host of the dogfights, Camille Gann, was in December 2005 sentenced to seven years in prison plus eight years on probation. Pleading guilty to raising fighting dogs and delivering them to Gann, LeShon Johnson got five years on probation.


Quanis Phillips received 21 months and Purnell Peace 18 months received for cooperating I’m sure. Even being connected to Vick might have helped these two? Who knows?

Perhaps some of this cooperation helped to take down the recent dog fighting rings in June 09. It was the largest in US history. Perhaps, there is an estimated 40,000 people involved in dog fighting in the US.

Time and again it is clear to see is how non celebrities receive longer sentences for dog fighting and animal abuse.


 A question that needs to be asked is what are these people receiving in the way of counseling? Supposedly Vick is going to “be an advocate to stop dog fighting”, his words from the court room on the day he was sentenced. He has teamed up with the HSUS, and again on 60 Min he says he is going to let his “actions speak louder than his words”. He says he’ll be “in the community helping kids”.

On relatively good authority, I was told first hand that his association with the HSUS is really about him “going through the motions” and raising money for the HSUS. This money goes into their coffers collecting interest and being doled out as they see fit. These donations do not necessarily go to dogs or top stop dog fighting. Along the way they’ll get Vick in the media “doing good things” shaking hands etc…this cleans him up somewhat.

Personally I don’t buy it. Saying and doing when it comes to dogs is a large problem in the world today. As I said my bias is with the dogs, all dogs. Especially the dogs that need help today, and tomorrow. The perspective, especially with many people is that dogs are just not as worthwhile as human life.


I wonder how many football players are responsible for great things beyond their ability on the field. Which is entertainment in the end, no football game has ever determined the fate of the human race, however the canine and its survival tale is inextricably tied to the development of the human race.


When I think of the countless dogs that have helped farmers & settlers, the dogs working as therapy dogs, as Seeing Eye dogs, as dogs who protected homes and travelers and some would say dogs are the single reason the human race was able to survive and help humans make the leaps we’ve made. How many football players will be able to claim all that the dogs have to claim as worth?


Mike Vick says he is changed and that he knows it was wrong; however he has a 7 million dollar deal with the Philadelphia Eagles as a reward for knowing he is wrong. I have yet to see him other than on 60 min do an event for kids, one since he’s been out of jail. He has however signed a deal and is getting 7 million after less than 2 months out of prison.


I do not see the NFL or the Eagles or Vick writing checks to start an educational program for youth about dogs and the dangers of getting involved in dog fighting. The HUSUS says they have a “program” with Vick involving kids and education, Wayne PacelIe says “ Vick must be in all the way, not just a flash in the pan”. How is Vick going to be helping kids when he’s ridding the bench in Philly, Dallas, LA etc…I don’t see it happening. Other than some PR stunts, what is really going to happen with Vick & The HSUS? Lots of money donated and photo ops are what I see.


It would be nice to see more about what Vick is doing for other people and dogs, rather than how he is back to making money with football. The NFL has to protect their investment, remember he was signed to the largest contract in history. The NFL is a corporation, regardless of what team he plays for it’s the NFL that is his boss. The NFL is not concerned about dogs, they are concerned about money.


No one can make someone want to help, or have empathy. Vick claims he is religious; eh…Religion has done more harm than good on this planet. When it comes to the welfare of animals; especially dogs; I see no place for religion. Only science and common sense can make a difference.


Teaching empathy to people about dogs is the disconnect that exists in the dynamic between dogs and humans. It was once there and valued like a “best friend” however that bond has been somewhat weakened by not only examples of celebrities getting off and leniency, but also in the way the TV shows and their trainers maintain this lie about dogs “dominating” us. Yes the spectrum of abuse swings wide in the consciousness of canine culture. Vick brought the plight of the Pit Bull out in the open and I must say ever since the media has taken a better, not perfect; but better slant of dog bites and dog related human deaths. However if Vick really wanted to make an impact, he’d be working full time to help stop animal abuse, not just when the camera’s were rolling.


Vick could really help by looking to invest, yes invest in the futures of at risk youth. Football is a better path than fighting dogs. A camp, a retreat a way for kids to learn about football and learn about dogs would be something in his off season he would be wise to consider. Are you listening HSUS?


The most at risk age for kids to get involved in dog fighting is between; 13 – 17, Vick could sway many of these kids away from the life if he really wanted to. The mark of a man is how he treats animals, children and anyone weaker than himself. This is the message that Vick’s people need to put in his mouth.


 From where I sit I see Mike Vick doing great actually. And the perception on the streets among those that resonate with dog fighting and looks up to Vick will not be swayed by a 2 year sentence or even a 5 year bid, these guys will be like “what’s 2 - 5 years, if I can make a few hundred grand along the way”?


Deterring criminals from fighting dogs has to come from all sides. Vick can help, but he cannot do it all. So far this year law enforcement is doing a good job, but it is still happening “every weekend all around the country”. Mike Vick will not be able to stop that, but perhaps he can get in front of would be kids at risk. We’ll see.


My question is to Judge Henry Hudson, why no physiological counseling? Why no court mandated community service focused on shelter dogs and hands on work that may start to create some empathy? I see the NFL has appointed someone and Vick has “god/religion”


The lenient sentence is a slap in the face to all the dogs that worked to help build this country. The lack of concern for Vick’s mental state and the message it sends to youth is not good one either. Once again it looks like overall message is if you have power and money you will be able to make deals. Dogs are not as important as they once were.


What baffles me is how people can be fooled into forgetting that Vick killed dogs. Such as the weak “debate” that was had on MSNBC about Vick. I applaud 60 Min for stressing that fact. Vick did this by electrocution, hanging and drowning. This is what should not be forgotten. It was not just “bank rolled” or funded by Vick, he and his “boys” we’re killing dogs.


These acts by the vast majority of anyone’s standards are sick. Even among criminals, it is not considered “normal” to kill dogs. It appears from Vick’s 60 min interview he has been “reformed”. However without legitimate physiological help I do not see how this man can be changed by jail and religion.


People who kill innocent dogs, cats etc…are considered one step away from killing humans. There is desensitization that people like this have, and that does just not disappear from a few years in jail. It could make it worse especially if the downside is 7 million and a 2nd chance, Where’s the motivation?


The ability to “get out of the game” was obviously a possibility; I mean he had the money from football & endorsements. He could have even stepped back and just been a money man behind the scenes, but he was right there in the thick of it. So obviously he’s either not too smart or this type of stuff resonates with the man. When asked why he stayed involved in the life of dog fighting he had no really good honest, reflective answer. Basically after some verbal fumbling he told a tale of being 8 years old and the police not caring about dog fighting and it being “normal” in his neighborhood/family etc…A cultural thing.


I do not like football, so I have no trouble there. I thought about the products that sponsor football teams and again I have no worries there. Mike Vick says he “does not care about football and money”, so why take the gig in Philly? Why not go full time into helping people and helping dogs? Actions and words, we’ll see how well they match up in time.


You can go to the games and carry signs and make a fuss and you should, if that is what you feel is needed. However Vick is playing football, ah riding the bench… and making money and protests will not stop that. You can boycott companies and products, I applaud your efforts.


However there are dogs in need of help at shelters; are you listening HSUS? Or you could take your uber friendly pit bull dog and meet new people and pass the truth to those you meet that it is about the people in dogs lives not the “breed”. Remember the Vick dogs are an example of how amazing dogs can transition out of bad experiences, use it. One of the dogs Leo is a therapy dog!


There is no shortage of help that dog’s need it is a never ending job. So don’t waste too much time on Vick, because so far it appears on the surface that he’s doing fine. But you have to wonder how his subconscious is playing on him? He’ll have quite a bit to think about as he watches his team play; lots of things can be heard from the bench and after the game, in the press etc…When will he have time to devote to advocacy, I wonder?


The marches at the games will subside. So remember; you can all the while be writing your politicians and asking for stiffer sentences for dog fighting and animal abuse. The ASPCA estimates that animal abuse happens every 10 seconds in the US, factor in the hack pain training that goes unchecked and it might be more like every 5 seconds. This is bigger than Vick, dog abuse/mis treatment and judgments of Pit Bulls have been and continue to happen (Loudoun County VA). Are you listening HSUS/Vick? We’ve got work to do. If you want to help we can use you, if you want PR keep walking.

This is the last time I’ll be giving Vick any attention. The day he is sincere about legitimately helping the cause for dogs I’ll get wind of it, and then I’ll come back into the debate.  I’m glad no one on the NY Yankees was caught up in any dog related crimes!

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