Michael Vick Addresses Congress on Animal Fighting

In his continuing role as an unlikely animal welfare spokesperson, Michael Vick will go before congress today to offer his support for H.R. 2492.

The proposed legislation would prohibit knowing attendance at organized animal fights and impose additional penalties for causing a minor to attend such events. U.S. Reps Tom Marino and Betty Sutton introduced the bill.

Vick and HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle are scheduled to appear on Capitol Hill today to voice their concerns about dog fighting and urge congress to pass H.R. 2492.

Michael Vick was charged with involvement in an illegal interstate dog fighting ring in 2007. In August of that year the NFL star plead guilty to federal felony charges and served 21 months in prison, followed by two months in home confinement. Returning to football shortly after his release, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback recently signed a substantial endorsement deal with Nike, who cited “the positive changes he has made to better himself off the field.”

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Last week, the Humane Society of The US issued the following press release in support of  H.R. 2492:

WASHINGTON– The Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society Legislative Fund applaud U.S. Reps. Tom Marino, R-Pa., and Betty Sutton, D-Ohio, for introducing bipartisan federal legislation, H.R. 2492, that would prohibit knowing attendance at organized animal fights and impose additional penalties for causing a minor to attend such events. Over the past decade, Congress has strengthened the penalties for and closed major loopholes in the federal animal fighting law, but has left the issue of spectators unaddressed. The Marino-Sutton bill will correct this remaining gap in federal law to allow for a more comprehensive crackdown on this barbaric activity.

“Spectators are participants and accomplices who enable the crime of animal fighting, provide a large share of the funding for the criminal enterprise through their admission fees and gambling wagers, and help conceal handlers and organizers who try to blend into the crowd when a bust occurs,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The HSUS. “We are grateful to Representatives Marino and Sutton for introducing this legislation. We call on Congress to swiftly pass it and give law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on the entire cast of characters involved in animal fighting.”

Animal fighting is an inhumane and cruel activity involving the deliberate pitting of animals against each other to fight, often for lengthy contests that end in death, for the sole purpose of gambling and entertainment of spectators. Animals used for fighting are often drugged to heighten their aggression and forced to keep fighting even after they’ve suffered grievous injuries such as broken bones, deep gashes, punctured lungs, and pierced eyes. Young children are often brought to these events and exposed to the gruesome spectacle as acceptable entertainment.

“As a former state and federal prosecutor, I’ve seen first-hand the criminal culture that surrounds animal fighting events and the damaging influence this environment has on our children,” said Rep. Marino. “We try to protect our kids from criminal violence and yet there is no safeguard for those adults who take impressionable children to animal fights where they can witness these heinous acts in person. I introduced this legislation to make sure that law enforcement has all of the tools necessary to deprive the organizers and profiteers of these horrific events from receiving the support they need to continue this activity.”

“Animal fighting is a horrible and barbaric activity, and by making it a federal crime for individuals to knowingly attend these events or bring minors to them, we will make tremendous strides in putting an end to it once and for all,” said Rep. Sutton. “I am proud to stand with Members from both sides of the aisle and look forward to passing this common-sense, humane legislation.”

It is illegal in 49 states to be a knowing spectator at an animal fight. A majority  – 28 states – impose felony-level penalties on spectators. The Marino-Sutton bill imposes federal misdemeanor penalties for knowing attendance and felony penalties for causing a minor to attend. State and federal law enforcement agencies often work together to enforce animal fighting laws, and the federal law will complement the state laws on animal fighting spectators.

The law would not reach to individuals who are not aware they are present at an animal fight or situations where two animals fight without provocation by animal fighting organizers.  Because organized animal fighting is a federal crime and illegal in all 50 states, this activity is highly clandestine.  Spectators at animal fights don’t just accidentally happen upon a fight – they seek out the criminal activity at secret locations, often need passwords to enter, and pay hefty admission fees for the opportunity to watch and gamble on the fights – facts that a prosecutor might use as evidence to prove that a defendant knowingly attended.

Facts:

  • Spectators pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in admission fees and gambling bets, generating the bulk of the revenue for this illegal enterprise. The fights would not occur without the crowd betting on the outcome and enjoying the bloodletting.
  • Spectators provide cover for animal fighters, who weave into crowds to evade prosecution at the first sign of a police raid.
  • Often spectators are themselves participants in animal fights, waiting their turn at a typical organized animal fight, with several rounds during an event or derby. When police raid an animal fight, it is extremely difficult to differentiate between spectators and participants who were going to fight their dog or bird in the next match.
  • Cockfighting has been linked to the death of a number of people in Asia from bird flu and to an outbreak of a poultry disease that cost U.S. taxpayers more than $200 million to contain.
  • Animal fighting is also closely associated with other criminal activities such as gangs, narcotics, illegal weapons possession, public corruption and various violent crimes.  A three-year study by the Chicago Police Department found that 70 percent of animal offenders had also been arrested for other felonies, including domestic and aggravated battery, illegal drug trafficking and sex crimes.

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The Humane Society of the United States is the nation’s largest animal protection organization – backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. 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.

The Humane Society Legislative Fund is a social welfare organization incorporated under section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code and formed in 2004 as a separate lobbying affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States. The HSLF works to pass animal protection laws at the state and federal level, to educate the public about animal protection issues and to support humane candidates for office. On the Web at hslf.org.




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8 comments

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    July 19, 2011 11:09 amPosted 2 years ago
    Leanne McIvor

    Michael Vick is a sociopath animal abuser that will burn and rot in hell and he does not deserve an endorsement with NIKE let alone a second chance – with society he will be forever shunned and labled a dog killer – BOYCOTT NIKE until they do the right thing and fire Vicks ass – join SackVick.com

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    July 19, 2011 11:31 amPosted 2 years ago
    Miss Jan

    Amazing, isn’t it, the lengths to which this scum’s handlers will go to try to keep his probation officer happy. You know what? Not a single one of us who care for any animal believe Vick’s act for one darn minute. The only sorrow Vick appears to feel is for having got caught. He never did time for the animal crimes, only the money crimes which is a fact most mainstream media happily ignores as they fawn over his re-directed thuggery (e.g., committing violence against other humans for pay in the name of “sport”). Vick should still be in prison for ALL the crimes he committed and further he should have had his children permanently removed from contact with him. IMO there is no punishment great enough (in this country, anyway) for what Vick did. Perhaps as a society we should think about adopting some other countries’ types of punishment for the kind of crimes Vick committed – I’m talking about making the punishment exactly fit the crime. Right down to ripping out his teeth without anesthetic, forced physical humiliation of the kind he subjected female dogs to, electrocution in a wet container, hanging, mutilation, stabbing and other cutting, etc. Yes – I would still like to see Vick suffer the same torture he inflicted on dogs and likely other animals.

    We have had plenty of proof for decades now that most members of Congress are completely self-serving if not downright predatory on those less powerful than they are, so it does not surprise me that they are welcoming “one of their own”. Quite a happy little party they’re sponsoring! The dogs Vick tortured and killed must be wailing in a sorrowful chorus to have to suffer the final indignity of “seeing” their murderer celebrated. Just wait – there is no way the bill is going to pass because there are far, far too many people with the same evil warped psyches as Vick and they are powerful, monied and well connected – just like him. How else do you think he skated on the worst of his crimes???

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      July 19, 2011 1:19 pmPosted 2 years ago
      MizzV

      AMEN! You said everything I wanted to say and more. He is not remorseful in any way for anything he’s done. IF ONLY the punishments you’ve stated could be inflicted on him. He deserves those and then some. He is a pathetic excuse for a human being and I am sickened by the fact that he’s getting notoriety for his so-called “stance against animal violence” now. He could care less and if he knew he wouldn’t get caught, he’d start up again. I can only hope that there is some justice in this world and one day he will know and feel the pain he’s caused on those innocent victims.

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  • July 19, 2011 8:25 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Sasha

    I do not want to expend the energy on what I think of Michael Vick (been there, done that enough), I just want to see this bill passed and enforced and quite honestly I don’t care who jumps on the bandwagon as long as it garners more attention and gets out to the general masses that wouldn’t pursue the info & facts themselves.
    At the end of the day it’s about the victims and what’s being done about this heinous sport.

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    July 19, 2011 10:52 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Debi Bel

    Michael Vick is a dangerous personality. His past actions prove he has no conscience and there is no amount of money, public atonement, corporate endorsement or even multi million dollar contracts that will allow him to acquire the most basic of emotions: empathy for others.
    Without the ability to feel for his victims, Vick is a machine capable of committing the same or worse atrocities. Those entities in our society who endorse him are both corrupt and stupid.

    However, the system did its job when sentencing Vick for dogfighting. At the time Vick was prosecuted, the laws were far too lax. But whose fault is that? Is it the Court who sentenced Vick? No. It is our fault-American society sat on its fat fanny and looked the other way rather than face the “unpleasant” fact of animal fighting until the media brought it into every house in this country with the Vick case. So, when we rail against Congress, or the “system” who only sentenced Vick to a paltry couple of years in jail let’s be realistic. If we want to stop the barbaric cruelties like animal fighting, vivisection (unnecessary animal experimentation), factory farming and more (pick your cause), then we need to get off our couches and get active. As much as I despise Vick and wish he were serving a life sentence in prison, he’s not going to get the legal punishment that he deserves (in my opinion). He got off easy for what he did. So let’s make sure that the next Vick doesn’t get off easy. Let’s make sure that Vick’s name stands for more than hatred and NIKE logo’s. Starting with getting this federal bill passed. Find out what the law is for dog fighting in your State and if you don’t like it? DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE IT.

    Our legal system and our society in general isn’t perfect-it fails many times to achieve our hopes. But it is the BEST legal system in the world and the only one we have. Fight to make our system better rather than allowing apathy destroy that which we have now.

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      July 20, 2011 1:07 pmPosted 2 years ago
      Miss Jan

      Please people try to remember the accurate story. Vick did NOT get convicted for dogfighting. Thanks to plea deals he went to prison for BANKROLLING dogfighting including money laundering across state lines. If they hadn’t charged him with that he would have been charged with tax evasion too. He did not get punished for what he did to the dogs – only what he did to the money. Last I heard, money doesn’t suffer agonies or horrific deaths.

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    July 20, 2011 5:16 pmPosted 2 years ago
    Oklahoma Animal Advocate

    My first thought when I read that Vick was speaking in behalf of this bill was one of anger thinking how few dog lovers, even members of humane groups and rescue groups, will take the time to call their reps to support this bill. Many of them don’t even know who their U S House representative is.

    I will not attempt to argue the concept of forgiveness and redemption which can result in a change of heart. That concept is found in the Christian religion, which a lot of people believe. I don’t argue religion myself.

    Neither will I concern myself with what Michael Vick is thinking (heck, I don”t even know what my own husband is thinking a lot of the time).

    What concerns me more than the philosophical question of can people change or what Vick thinks, is whether animal welfare advocates can drum up the groundswell of public support needed to see this bill to impose felony penalties on animal fighting spectators pass.

    I have called my rep. And I am urging my friends to do the same.

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    July 21, 2011 11:36 amPosted 2 years ago
    Sarahkate

    What concerns me about the fact that Vick and his panderer HSUS are the public face of this very legitimate piece of proposed legislation is that MANY will completely blow it off and not bother supporting it. The very fact that Vick is associated with this will turn so many folks completely off and even make many furious. It’s not that people won’t want to support the legislation – it’s the fact that Vick’s connection to it, being a celebrity spokesperson for it, will automatically negate any positive public effects it might have had.

    And I am SO done with being told I am not “Christian” if I don’t “forgive” Vick. In most “Christian” practices “forgiveness” equals “make it okay that he did the things he did.” Well – it is not and will never be “okay” – if that makes me a non-believer well go ahead and hunt me down and burn me at the stake as a heretic. That’s where this country is headed anyway! A wise philosopher once said that the enemy of truth is belief. There are far too many people who attempt to impose their beliefs on others without respect for what the others believe. If some or many self-labeled Christians choose to make it okay with themselves that Vick committed arguably the most heinous crimes against living feeling creatures, they are entitled to their way of thinking – just do not for one minute attempt to impose your way of thinking on other legitimate Christians! Just because some Christians do not agree with forgiving (in your definitions) Vick doesn’t mean we aren’t true believers!

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