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August 27, 2007

Vick Puts America on Watch

Last Friday, the federal government released Michael Vick's statement of facts in his plea deal in U.S. District Court in Richmond—and another round of press attention was showered on the case. Vick admitted to being centrally involved in a multi-state professional dogfighting operation, centered around Bad Newz Kennels on his former property on Moonlight Road in Surry County Virginia. Here is a link to the terms of his plea.

Today, Vick walks into federal court and formalizes his plea. Sentencing happens down the line, along with that of his three co-defendants who also struck pleas.

The Humane Society of the United States hopes that U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson will issue a stern penalty commensurate with the gravity of this awful crime. And while the penalty must be just, this case is no cause for celebration. Many dogs suffered in the years before the arrests occurred, and the lives of four men who went down the road of organized crime are now in disrepair. Michael Vick fell furthest, and his losses will surely exceed $100 million, in addition to his freedom and the potential loss of his entire professional football career.

But the point of The HSUS's involvement in this case was not just to ferret out whether Michael Vick and his co-defendants committed federal crimes related to dogfighting and to see justice served. A closely related goal was to strike a blow against the larger societal problem of dogfighting. We hope you think we've done this job well.

Dogfighting has moved from a second-tier animal protection issue to the first tier, and the sordid details of this underworld “sport” have been bared for all to see. We have heard from so many of you who are shocked to learn of the prevalence of this senseless cruelty, and eager to take action to stamp it out.

Let me assure you that each of you can help us build on this momentum. We need eyes and ears in every community across the country to report animal fighting activities, and to help us wipe out the epidemic.

You_tube_video_contest_3 And we need to continue to spread the word, so here is one more opportunity. A few weeks ago, we invited concerned citizens to express their feelings about animal fighting by posting a video on YouTube. The response has been tremendous, and we are truly impressed with the quality of these works. We’ve chosen three stand-out submissions, and now we are asking you to choose a winner.

You can watch the three videos here. Let me tell you: they are powerful. They stand as an important reminder that each individual can speak uniquely against dogfighting and that every voice matters.

Please vote for your favorite, and then share the videos with your friends and family. Help us circulate them far and wide.

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