Animal abuse should not be tolerated

Jenna Staul

The verdict in the court of public opinion is in: Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is an admittedly guilty participant in the cruel and barbaric “sport” of dog fighting. And while many are crying foul about the incredibly heartless actions of the NFL star, there may be some good to come out of his recent indictment.

It’s time to shine the spotlight on the all-too-common cases of animal cruelty committed in America, and Vick may have inadvertently done just that.

Vick and three others were indicted on a conspiracy count alleging they participated in an animal-fighting enterprise that trained pit bulls to fight until their death as a spectator event with perverse entertainment value.

The indictment alleges that Vick and his associates bought and sponsored dogs to fight, traveled across state lines with the animals and encouraged spectators to gamble on the outcome of the fights, some of whom profited thousands of dollars. If a dog lacked the athletic prowess and fighting gusto that Vick expected from his four-legged warriors, it would be killed.

Charming, isn’t it?

The merciless treatment these animals endured at the hands of Vick and his cronies in their furry fight club is absolutely heartbreaking, to say the least. But at least there is some light at the end of the tunnel, besides the six-year prison sentence and $350,000 fine Vick faces.

Perhaps fewer animals will suffer as a result of higher public awareness on the issue.

The Humane Society of the United States conducted an un-scientific survey in 2003 studying people who typically commit crimes against animals. According to the survey, males abuse animals more commonly than females and shootings are the most common offenses. Companion or domestic pets are abused more often than other animals and dogs are abused more than cats. The study also reports that animal game-fighting is alarmingly on the rise.

According to the results of the study, Vick’s situation is not unique. However, factoring in the fact that Vick, a former star football player at Virginia Tech, is signed to a 10-year, $130 million contract, it’s difficult to fathom why he would involve himself in the abuse of animals to make a few thousand bucks – mere pocket change to any self respecting overpaid NFL quarterback.

It just goes to show that animal cruelty can occur anywhere at anyone’s hands and that we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it.

The Humane Society urges the public to be vigilant and aware that animal abuse is a prevalent crime committed everyday. It also stresses the importance of reporting any potential cases of animal cruelty.

While NFL officials are still debating what to do with the fallen Atlanta Falcon and are deciding whether the indictment means Vick is in conflict with the league’s personal conduct policy, at least one thing is for sure: The public has been given a valuable wake-up call.

Jenna Staul is a sophomore journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].