Monday, March 2, 2009

Bad Newz

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Michael Vick is being released to house arrest for the remainder of his sentence. Kristi Keith over at Pet Connection (a blog I follow) has written an article that I will share with you here on this blog.

Michael Vick to be released to house arrest

February 27, 2009

From ESPN, news that convicted dog killer Michael Vick will be finishing out his sentence in the comfort of his own home:

Vick is serving a 23-month sentence at the federal penitentiary in Leavenworth, Kan., after pleading guilty to bankrolling a dogfighting operation at a home he owned in eastern Virginia’s Surry County. He also admitted to participating in the killing of several underperforming dogs.

Vick’s lawyers have said they expected him to be moved any day into a halfway house in Newport News. But because of a lack of space, Vick will be released instead to his home in nearby Hampton at some point on or after May 21, said the official, who has knowledge of the case but requested anonymity because the individual was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

He’s also declaring bankruptcy… or at least, he’s been trying to. And of course, his team, the Atlanta Falcons, has been trying to trade him for a couple of weeks.

The sports world is dividing into opposing camps on what his future should be. Some, like this guy, figure nothing you do to a dog really matters, and he needs a second chance:

Crime is crime and I’m definitely not absolving crime, but isn’t one human life more important than every single animal on the planet? This might be an unpopular belief to be critical in this instance (like I care), but there are some folk out there who don’t think so. What’s that about? Kinda crazy right? Let me put it this way, if I had a family dog in my household for years and I had to make a decision whether to save it or a total stranger, I guess I’ll be making a trip to the pet store. Of course I would be sad, but isn’t there a difference? Is this illogical?

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to say that while some cats like Bernie Maddoff chill in Manhattan condos, Mike was serving time. He was contrite during that very humbling press conference, so it’s time to ease back and let the man live. He killed no one but you would think he ran through Virginia like Nat and slashed folks on outta here. The press coverage was absolutely sickening. Some view dog fighting as a horrible crime, but it never warranted the coverage it received no matter what some of you say.

Others, like Sports Illustrated editor Jim Gorant, see it differently; those people see it from the point of view of what Vick did to his dogs:

(It) began in 2001, about the same time Vick started cashing NFL paychecks and bought a 15-acre plot of land at 1915 Moonlight Road in Smithville, Va. The property sits across from a Baptist church. A bright green lawn surrounds a white brick house that has a pool and a basketball court in the backyard and is bordered by a white picket fence. When Vick bought the land, the house didn’t exist and wouldn’t be built for a few years. It wasn’t a priority. The Atlanta Falcons’ new quarterback never intended to live there.

Beyond the house, shrouded by trees, were five sheds painted black from top to bottom, including the windows and doors. Past them were scattered wire cages and wood doghouses. Farther still, where the trees got thicker, two partly buried car axles protruded from the ground. This was the home of Bad Newz Kennels, the dogfighting operation that Vick and three of his buddies started a year after Vick became the first pick of the 2001 NFL draft. When local and state authorities busted the operation in April 2007, 51 pit bulls were seized, Jasmine among them.

By most estimates Jasmine is around four years old, which means she was most likely born into Bad Newz, and her life there fit the kennel’s name. A few of the dogs, probably pets, were kept in one of the sheds. The fighters and a handful of dogs that Bad Newz housed for other people lived in the outdoor kennels. The rest — dogs that were too young to fight, were used for breeding or were kept as bait dogs for the fighters to practice on — were chained to the car axles in the woods.

The water in the bowls was speckled with algae. Females were strapped into a “rape stand” so the dogs could breed without injuring each other. Some of the sheds held syringes and other medical supplies, and training equipment such as treadmills and spring bars (from which dogs hung, teeth clamped on rubber rings, to strengthen their jaws). The biggest shed had a fighting pit, once covered by a bloodstained carpet that was found in the woods.

According to court documents, from time to time Vick and his cohorts “rolled” the dogs: put them in the pit for short battles to see which ones had the right stuff. Those that fought got affection, food, vitamins and training sessions. The ones that showed no taste for blood were killed — by gunshot, electrocution, drowning, hanging or, in at least one case, being repeatedly slammed against the ground.

It’s impossible to say what Jasmine saw while circling the axles deep in the woods, but dogs can hear a tick yawn at 50 yards. The sounds of the fights and the executions undoubtedly filtered through the trees.

Me, I’m no sports fan, but the side I’m on in is pretty clear: I don’t give a damn about Vick’s second chance. How about you?

Photo of rescued Vick dog Jonny Justice, courtesy of BAD RAP.

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