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The Humane Society of the United States Reacts to Atlanta Falcons Quarterback Michael Vick's Dogfighting Indictment

The Humane Society

Last month, a federal grand jury indicted AtlantaFalcons celebrity quarterback Michael Vick and three others on felony dogfighting charges. The indictment follows a three-month investigation of an alleged dogfighting operation uncovered at Vick'sproperty in Surry County, Virginia. Vick and the three co-defendants are charged with violating federal laws against competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting, and conducting the enterprise across state lines. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) assisted in the investigation and care of the dogs taken from the property.
"Dogfighting is a serious federal and state crime, and enforcement authorities have treated this investigation with the seriousness it deserves," said Wayne Pacelle of The HSUS. "We will continue to work with law enforcement with the intention of bringing to justice any individual who contributed to this cruel and violent treatment of animals."

"Now that Michael Vick has been indicted, the NFL should not hesitate to take appropriate disciplinary action under its internal guidelines," added Pacelle.

On April 25, Authorities seized 52 pit bulls from Vick's Surry County property and also found equipment used in dogfighting operations including a "rape stand" used for forced breeding, treadmills, drugs to enhance fighting performance, and a blood-stained fighting pit.

Dogfighting is a cruel blood-sport in which two dogs, trained to be vicious by torturous methods such as beating, confinement in trunks or closets, or feeding them gunpowder, are pitted against each other in a fight to the death or until one dog cannot continue, for the amusement of spectators and high-priced wagering. Fights can last for hours as the dogs are trained to continue even after brutal wounds are inflicted.

"When I got the first dog, I was really young and I shared a lot of the work with my mom," Ana said. “But after that basically the dog was my responsibility.  My family helped me out a lot, but it really showed me what responsibility is, to have to wake up every morning and take him out.”

According to court documents regarding Vick's case, even if the losing dogs survived they met a cruel fate, "sometimes put to death by drowning, strangulation, hanging, gun shot, electrocution or some other method."

These documents, filed in the U.S. District Court in Richmond, thoroughly describe the nature of dogfighting on Vick's property and suggest that one or more informants guided investigators on two recent raids. Authorities say the dogs were bathed immediately before fights to make sure their coats were not tainted with a poison that could unfairly thwart the opponent.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization backed by 10 million Americans, or one of every 30. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education, and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty -- On the web at humanesociety.org .

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