It’s Not About Ookie’s Football Career; It’s About Stopping Dog Fighting

After his indictment and guilty plea on federal charges of conspiracy to engage in gambling and dog fighting in violation of the Animal Welfare Act, 7 USC §2156, Vick, a top football player for the NFL and quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, lost endorsement contracts including Nike, Rawlings, and AirTran Airways. Other companies like Reebok, Sport’s Authority, and Dick’s Sporting Goods stopped selling goods with his name and likeness. It’s hard even to find a football trading card for Vick.

He was benched indefinitely by the NFL and the Atlanta Falcons.

Now, following his sentencing, Vick faces a lawsuit by the Atlanta Falcons for the return of the bonus money from his 10-year, $130 million football contract. Vick has defaulted on a $1.3 million bank loan for a business selling wines. At least two other banks have filed lawsuits attempting to recoup $4.5 million in loans and lines of credit. Vick is attempting to sell his multi-million dollar  home in Atlanta.

He still faces trial on two felony counts related to dog fighting in Surrey County, Virginia beginning April 2, 2008.

In 2005 Vick was ranked 33 on Forbes’ list of the top 100 celebrities with earnings reported to be $37.5 million a year. He didn’t even make the list this year. 

 Poor Ookie.

But this is about more than a celebrity behaving badly. It is about more than a dizzying fall from the heights of wealth and power. It is not simply a salacious story, enjoyable gossip.

This is about animal cruelty. Terrible, sickening cruelty to dogs. Michael Vick used some of his considerable fortune to fund a dog fighting venture headquartered at his Surrey County property. Vick and his co-conspirators  purchased dogs from other states including New York and North Carolina. The dogs were rolled or tested for fighting. Vick and his cohorts traveled to other states such as Maryland, North Carolina and New Jersey to participate in dog fights. Dog fights were also held at the Surrey County property and involved people from New York, Texas and North Carolina. The purses ranged from $1,000 to nearly $30,000 per fight. Dogs that did not do well when rolled or tested or which lost fights were  “executed” including by shooting, electrocution, “hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.”

In the April 25, 2007 raid carried out by the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force (VAFTF) along with the Virginia State Police and Drug Task Force on Vick’s Surry County, Virginia property, authorities found: — 54 pit bull dogs, some of which were chained to car axles buried in the ground; — rape stands used to force fighting dogs to breed by restraining an aggressive female, — “break” or “parting” stick used to pry open fighting dogs’ mouths during fights; — treadmills and “slat mills” used to train dogs for fighting; — steroids and controlled substances as well as vitamins, dietary and red blood cell supplements administered to fighting dogs, — bloody strips of carpeting often found in dog fighting pits, — a scale with a hook on it to weigh dogs; — a diuretic to stimulate urination after a fight. Sources report there was a great deal of blood in the attic of the house.

Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) recently condemned dog fighting as “barbaric”. He elaborated, “It is a brutal, sadistic event motivated by barbarism of the worst sort and cruelty of the worst, worst, worst, sadistic kind".

Let’s not forget that is what this is about. It is these terrible crimes that should concern us, not whether Michael Vick will play football again.

One thought on “It’s Not About Ookie’s Football Career; It’s About Stopping Dog Fighting”

  1. There is no true justice for these dogs that is the true crime, you can’t relieve their past pain or bring them back to life. Mike Vick and every other human being who attends or participates in animal fights are mentally and morally deficient. I feel the same way about bull fighting, the running of the bulls, hunting, factory farming, puppy-mills, the fur trade. We need to view all animals as having the same rights to quality of life as we do, they also share this planet until that day we are not humane beings.

    Please continue to speak out for these dogs, you know a dog fighting operation is in progress someplace near you as we are reading this. We need to be their champions.

    Alicia Oxenhorn

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