Talk Back: Michael Vick

By on May 25, 2007 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Many readers have inquired about The HSUS’ involvement in the investigation surrounding Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick and allegations of a possible dogfighting operation at his former Virginia home.

Reader John Gilligan asks:

Is the HSUS going to have an email letter to send to the NFL Commissioner on Michael Vick in regards to dogfighting? I would like to contact him to urge a suspension.

And reader Denise C comments:

I would like to see The HSUS take a position on the dogfighting charge that may be coming against Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons. In this day and age it is unacceptable for a man of his stature to have anything to do with such an awful activity!!! Maybe you can post a number or email for the NFL for people to express their outrage.

The HSUS has been involved in this case from the start. Wayne wrote to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on May 3 and offered HSUS collaboration to investigate and eradicate any league players involved in illegal animal fighting. The HSUS has also created a way for you to take action—write NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Several readers also wrote to be sure that The HSUS was aware of the comments made by Washington Redskins player Clinton Portis, supporting Vick and dismissing the cruelty of dog fighting. Here are two of those comments:

I am not sure if anyone has seen it, but on there is an article with comments from Clinton Portis and Chris Samuels of the Washington Redskins that just infuriates me. They are quoted as saying that Vick should not face any type of criminal charges because they do not feel dog fighting is a criminal offense. They basically defend dog fighting and say that it is okay. These are not the people I want my children to look at as idols as many sports players are depicted. I think people in the sports world should be held to a higher accountability for their actions because of the influence they could have over children. If they are condoning a felony then I think the NFL needs to look at their actions also. Illegal means illegal; not you can do it because you think it is right in your warped judgment. I am sorry to vent, but wanted to bring this article to the attention of those who care. —Amy Eanes

I think The HSUS should come out and say something about the senseless, ridiculous comments mocking the seriousness of dog fighting made by NFL player Clinton Portis and others. I’m appalled by this and his staff’s attempts to hide it. Nancy Armour, AP Sports Columnist, wrote a fabulous column in retaliation to Portis’ lack of compassion. Thanks. —Megan

The HSUS responded to Portis’ comments in a statement on May 22, asking the NFL to demand an explanation from Portis and hold the star running back accountable, and renewed the offer to work collaboratively to root out any in the NFL who may be involved in dogfighting.

Below is a sampler of other reader reactions to the ongoing case:

Mr. Vick should be punished by law if found guilty (which it sounds to me!). If I had children, I would be very upset if they looked up to players in the NFL (i.e. M. Vick) that support this barbaric activity. Being an NFL fan myself, I will not root for Vick anytime in the future. The NFL should be comprised of upstanding citizens of our country, doing good for their individual communities; not promoting cruelty! Keep up the good work, HSUS! —K. Rose

I live in Atlanta and am truly disgraced by Michael Vick. I am a member of the Humane Society and so are many members of my family. I wrote a letter to the Atlanta Falcons expressing my concern for them continuing to have Michael Vick on the team and I also called for stiff action against him. My cousin has since sold his Falcons season tickets. Just over the past year I have read about two HORRIFIC animal abuse cases against dogs. Georgia has to get tough on these problems. Obviously young kids, who look at Michael Vick as a hero, see that he is involved in animal cruelty. Why should they think anything is wrong with it? I know that is not the core of the problem, but something has got to be done. It sickens my heart that people do these things and they are only slapped on the hand. —Vanessa Weiss

Michael Vick and some of his football player friends need an education on why they cannot do whatever they want with animals and why dog fighting is a moral and legal issue. He certainly does not represent a role model and I would hope that ad sponsors will take notice. —Fred Brodsky

I am a native Atlantan. Michael Vick is a disgrace to the Atlanta Falcons organization. I do not believe that he was not involved in the dog fighting.

I have notified Arthur Blank that I will not support the Falcons monetarily or any other way until Michael Vick is no longer part of the organization.

I certainly hope his "celebrity" won’t keep him from being prosecuted to the full extent of the law if it is discovered that he was in fact involved in the fighting part at his property. —JSC

Thank you for the updates on this story; it is sad that the only other news related to this case have been short "blurbs" in the sports section of our paper.

It’s amazing how prevalent dog fighting references have become in the world of professional sports. Last week I was watching the Chicago Bulls play the Detroit Pistons in the NBA playoffs. During the third quarter, one of the announcers said "what you see here is a dog fight." I was so stunned at what I heard that I played it back a few times to be sure I had heard correctly. I contacted ESPN regarding the comment, but have yet to hear back from them. Comments like these, as well as relegating news of cases such as Michael Vick’s, trivialize the horrific nature of these crimes.

I encourage everyone to speak up whenever possible on behalf of the animals. Together we have a powerful voice. —Christine Vertucci

Hello, I just wanted to say that this is a great opportunity to call attention to a vicious "sport." As a professional athlete (one whom my 18 year old son has admired for years), Vick is in the public eye and, like it or not, is a role model. Let’s use his celebrity to further bring to light a horrid, cruel, and illegal activity and see if we can’t do more to stop it. Thanks for all the great work you do! —Hillary Haley, MD

I cannot even begin to express my disgust at Michael Vick’s alleged involvement in the barbaric practice of dogfighting. If he is found guilty, he should receive the same sentence the average Joe would receive for the commission of a felony – no more velvet-glove treatment! He should be ashamed of himself. I hope the NFL does NOT attempt to sweep this under the rug and if there is anything we can do to ensure that that does not happen, please let us know.

And someone should hand Clinton Portis an education on where property rights begin and end, because he is also evidently clueless if he thinks that Vick has the right to do as he pleases with his own "property" and that dogfighting is "no big deal." What a couple of top-tier jerks. —Holly

Wayne, your letter to Commissioner Roger Goodell was excellent and I hope he takes action. I also hope that the owners, coaches and staff of all sports teams, particularly the NFL after the recent incidents, become involved. From recent comments by Drew Rosenhaus, the agent for Clinton Portis,it appears that the Agents should stop trying to protect their overpaid clients and start to address animal cruelty by these clients and not make excuses.

I would like to see Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and founder of Home Depot and Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, address this situation with their players and work with Animal Shelters to promote animal welfare as well as give a monetary contribution for they must remember that a great number of the fans are animal lovers and these people are the ones that pay the salaries. —Rhona


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