Michael Vick left Virginia last Monday to enter a drug treatment program at a minimum security facility in Leavenworth Prison, a move that could reduce the former NFL star’s 23-month sentence on a federal dogfighting conviction. If Mr. Vick participates in special programs offered at Leavenworth, including a drug treatment program, he could be classified as a non-violent offender and granted up to one year of early release from prison due to good behavior. Upon release, he hopes to return to his career as a professional football player on the 2009 football season. It seems Mr. Vick may be back in the game long before some of his dogs have recovered from the trauma of life at Bad Newz Kennels.
After being taken from the Moonlight Road property, Vick’s dogs were dispersed to six animal-control facilities in Virginia. Conditions differed slightly from place to place, but for the most part each dog was kept alone in a cage for months at a time. They were often forced to relieve themselves where they stood, and they weren’t let out even while their cages were being cleaned; attendants simply hosed down the floors with the dogs inside. They were given so little attention because workers assumed they were dangerous and would be put down after Vick’s trial. The common belief is that any money and time spent caring for dogs saved from fight rings would be better devoted to the millions of dogs already sitting in shelters, about half of which are destroyed each year.
Shocking, isn’t it? Kind of makes you wonder how in the world they thought they were improving the lives of these dogs or readying them for rescue. It’s a good thing animal rescue programs got them out of the animal control facilities quickly.
PETA and the Humane Society of the U.S. wanted all the dogs euthanized. Even after many successes, with some of the dogs already placed in homes, PETA and HSUS stand by their initial position of euthanasia for all:
PETA wanted Jasmine (one of the bitches from Bad Newz Kennels) dead. Not just Jasmine, and not just PETA. The Humane Society of the U.S., agreeing with PETA, took the position that Michael Vick’s pit bulls, like all dogs saved from fight rings, were beyond rehabilitation and that trying to save them was a misappropriation of time and money. “The cruelty they’ve suffered is such that they can’t lead what anyone who loves dogs would consider a normal life,” says PETA spokesman Dan Shannon. “We feel it’s better that they have their suffering ended once and for all.” If you’re a dog and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals suggests you be put down, you’ve got problems.
In the end, 47 of the 51 Vick dogs were saved. (Two died while in the shelters; one was destroyed because it was too violent; and another was euthanized for medical reasons.) Twenty-two dogs went to Best Friends, where McMillan and his staff chart their emotional state daily; almost all show steady improvement in categories such as calmness, sociability and happiness. McMillan believes 17 of the dogs will eventually be adopted, and applicants are being screened for the first of those. The other 25 have been spread around the country; the biggest group, 10, went to California with BAD RAP. Fourteen of the 25 have been placed in permanent homes, and the rest are in foster care.
I will never understand people who do not view animals as equal to humans in every way. To see them as mere objects, without feelings or the desire to be with humans is inhuman. How can a few months in prison change Michael Vick’s essential view of animals? The only real good I can see coming from all the attention his horrific deeds is that some people on the borderline have re-examined their own views of dogs and animals in general and come to see that animals deserve loving care and good homes.
To learn more good stuff about Jasmine and the rest of the dogs from Bad Newz Kennels, read a great, very positive article here at Sports Illustrated.
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