Yesterday, National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell announced that Michael Vick could make a conditional return to the NFL. If a team hires him, Vick can start practicing and play in some exhibition games, but a full-fledged return to playing in regular season games will happen only if Goodell determines that Vick adheres to the personal transition plan that he submitted to the NFL. One pledge he must fulfill is to work with The HSUS on community-based programs to reach at-risk youth about steering clear of dogfighting.
There’s no group that’s been more tenacious and effective in cracking down on dogfighting than The HSUS, and we had a major hand in the Vick case. We are the architects of the federal laws against animal fighting and we’ve worked to upgrade 22 state anti-animal fighting laws since the Vick case came to light. Every week, we are orchestrating or assisting with animal fighting busts, and we had a major hand in raiding more than 20 sites on a single day just a couple of weeks ago.
Yet we’ve known all along that a strict law enforcement approach alone cannot solve the problem. We need to reach young people before they get involved in this barbaric activity. I think Michael Vick may be able to help us with that outreach, and we are going to give him a chance to do that.
We already have End Dogfighting programs in Atlanta and Chicago involving ex-dogfighters and others who have turned their lives around and who are now on our side of this issue. These programs are working, and we are guiding kids down the pathway of more positive and humane interactions with dogs. We are giving Vick an opportunity to add value to these programs.
I thought it would be a good time to show you some photographs of the people directing our program, and the young men who are learning from it. If Michael Vick wants to become part of the solution, he'll be in good company.
Anthony Pickett, HSUS anti-dogfighting advocate, Peanut and Tiger
Mike and Blood Anthony and Tyson
All photos generously provided by Saverio Truglia; see more here. Click on each photo to see it in full-size.