Vick’s PR Campaign is the Pits


But if he’s got the money, we’ve got the time.


By Tara Murtha 

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 27 | Posted Aug. 18, 2009

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Death row records: Because of their bad rep, pit bulls make up almost all of the dogs left behind at city shelters to be euthanized.

Long before Michael Vick became an Eagle, local animal activists were whispering an uncomfortable truth: “Frankly, Vick’s the best thing to ever happen to pit bulls,” they’d say, because at least he sparked mainstream discussion and awareness of dogfighting. But, the same way Chris Brown punching Rihanna in the face led to a brief spotlight on teenage domestic violence, the attention does little to curb the problem.


The any-publicity-is-good-publicity
approach is the perspective taken by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), who have endorsed Vick, reasoning that he can use his celebrity to further their agenda. He’s reportedly already been in Atlanta schools preaching to kids that dogfighting is wrong and that they should love their pets. HSUS CEO Wayne Purcell, settling for scraps, has said that he is “hopeful” that Vick “will stick to it.”


The HSUS strategy is half-assed. True, Vick’s crimes stirred up mainstream discussion of dogfighting and educated a few people about its ills. But on the flip side, the publicity surrounding his crime also reinforced the characterization of pit bulls as violent creatures—a stereotype responsible for the excess of pits packed into shelters all over the country. 


In Philadelphia’s Animal Care & Control Team (ACCT) shelter on Hunting Park Ave., almost all the dogs on death row are pit bulls. These animals, once referred to as “the nanny breed” because of their fiercely loyal nature, have a serious PR problem, and Vick’s case hurt nationwide efforts to “re-brand” the dogs as lovable and adoptable.


In his 60 Minutes (America’s favorite confession booth) interview last Sunday night, Vick was so busy clumsily attempting to toot his own PR horn that he didn’t have any air left to help out the pits or educate people that they aren’t natural-born killers. The former overlord of an interstate dogfighting ring didn’t express much compassion for the dogs murdered and tortured—by electrocution, hanging and drowning—on his watch. There was no remorse for the 66 damaged animals and eight dead ones dug up from shallow graves in his yard. Instead, Vick talked about how being in jail had him totally bummin’. 



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“The first day I walked into prison and they slammed that door, I knew the magnitude of the decisions that I made,” said Vick. “I let myself down, you know, not being out on the football field, being in a prison bed, in a prison bunk, writing letters home, you know. That wasn’t my life. That wasn’t the way that things was supposed to be.”


In a city where the majority of animals are killed due to underfunded services, money talks and bullshit walks. Vick’s display of unbridled narcissism set his campaign back a bit, with local television news airing man-on-the-street interviews with fans who weren’t quite sure if he was truly sorry. But this is the thing: Here in Philly, it really doesn’t matter. As one of the most woefully funded programs in the country, we don’t need a convincing apology or proof of regret from Vick. We need money. 


To that end, Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) isn’t wasting time commenting on Vick’s feelings or scouring his televised eyeballs for contrition. Instead, they’re publicly calling on Vick to ante up cold hard cash.


“The Eagles have made their business decision and while we are deeply disappointed, we do not believe protesting will change that,” wrote Melissa Levy, director of PAWS in a public statement. “Instead, we invite Michael Vick to begin to make amends for the damage he has done to an entire population of dogs, pit bulls, the only way he can: by stepping up and donating a generous portion of his salary to groups dedicated to saving them. Michael Vick will in no way serve as a representative for PAWS or be allowed anywhere near our animals, but he can help us make a significant difference in their lives.”


Levy says media keep asking her if she “believes Vick should be forgiven.”


“I think that whether he’s truly sorry or not doesn’t really matter, it’s a matter of what he does concretely to demonstrate it,” she says. “So let’s see if we can exert what little control we have to bring about something positive from it. I don’t think that apologies are enough or even relevant.”


Meanwhile, the notoriously troubled PSPCA, the organization that handles cruelty cases statewide and runs the animal shelter in Philadelphia—where the majority of animals killed are pit bulls—is taking on the most interesting strategy of all by doing nothing. Are the folks at PSPCA ever going to seize Vick’s signing as an opportunity and shake him down for much-needed cash? 


No one knows. Other than a statement on their homepage declaring that they didn’t know about Vick’s signing before it happened, they’ve issued no formal statement and though promised, didn’t return PW ’s phone call for comment. 


The bottom line is that we don’t need symbolic gestures or a convincing public apology from Vick because it wouldn’t help anything (except his career) or make a real difference. The same goes for the fans and would-be fans. The Eagles will not be fiscally hurt by the few ticket-
holders who sell their tickets on Craigslist (um, into the hands of people eager to attend a game) or sign online petitions. Not that boycotting the Eagles is a bad idea on a personal level. It’s a noble and decent personal policy to not support people or companies one finds disgusting. But realize that it won’t make a difference. It’s a done deal.


Vick will play. If he plays well, and if the Eagles win or in keeping with Philly tradition, almost-win, headlines will crow about the “Vick-tory.” The lion’s share of the current anti-Vick boycotters will be watching games by then and probably even shouting his name as he sprints down the field. Protests, apologies and heartfelt cries of personal redemption are just fine, but ineffective. Philly animal welfare organizations—calling PSPCA, come in PSPCA—animal supporters and Mayor Nutter need to get behind this singular idea: The only way Vick can begin to make up for his heinous crimes is by dedicating a generous portion of his salary to animal welfare organizations here, and on top of preaching about how dogfighting sucks, help change the public perception of pit bulls as volatile killers since, after all, he perpetuated that stereotype. After that, shut up and go win us a Super Bowl. ■

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 27 of 27
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1. mamabear said... on Aug 19, 2009 at 12:30AM

“Not only should Vick donate a huge portion of his yearly salary to animal care, it should be made public so we know just how much it is plus he should donate his time (without cameras following him). Anyone in his position can write a check, take a tax deduction and feel exonerated. Giving up ones time is much more meaningful.






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2. Anonymous said... on Aug 19, 2009 at 05:06AM

“Vick should not be allowed near any animals at all. He has proven that he is incapable of the empathy and sympathy needed to handle them correctly.

If by giving up his time you mean cleaning kennels after the animals have been removed, then fine. Nothing like days old sh*t to give you a perspective on how much the animals suffer in shelters.

His money is as green as anyone else's and if the protesters withhold their money from sponsors of the Eagles and instead dedicate a portion towards PAWS or the PSPCA or another rescue group, then it's money well spent.

Vick has yet to show his hideous face to any groups in the area, and I'm not optimistic that he has the balls to do so. Can't wait til the next protest - we'll have more pictures of the results of dog fights to share with the public.”

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3. Scott said... on Aug 19, 2009 at 09:44AM

“I am SO tired of animal lovers who try to convince the public that the Pit Bull breed is just a "public relations" problem. Face it, how many attacks/deaths will it take? Try it for yourself, perform a Google News or Yahoo News search on "Pit Bull" and you will see story after story on Pit Bull attacks & towns trying to ban them. And don't give me that sorry excuse "It's not the dog, it is how they are trained"...yes, training plays a part of it. But Pit Bulls ARE naturally unpredictable aggressive dogs. Even the CDC in 2000 published a report "the data indicate that Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs accounted for 67% of human dog bite-related fatalities in the United States between 1997 and 1998." There are many bad animal owners out there, but there are also many bad dogs such as Pit Bulls and Rottweilers. A majority are good and loyal dogs, but why would anyone even want the liability of an animal that has the inherent ability to kill you to be around you or your family?”

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4. brendancalling said... on Aug 19, 2009 at 09:46AM

“michael vick should become a vegetarian.”

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5. Robert said... on Aug 19, 2009 at 10:14AM

“Vick's crimes were heinous, there is no disputing that. However, I find it sad and disturbing the outrage people have of Vick and do not have against other athletes charged with crimes against fellow human beings. The "outrage" is not equal across the board...Animals are helpless, but humanity is in a sad state when empathy for animals is valued higher then empathy for your fellow man/woman. There are reports of horrible crimes everyday and people barely react anymore, but animal abuse causes protests and outrage...

- Falcons Cornelius Bennett was charged with rape, sodomy, sexual abuse and unlawful imprisonment; neither released by the Falcons nor fined by the NFL.
- Donte Stallworth was charged with DUI and second degree manslaughter on April 1, 2009;was released from jail after serving 24 days of a 30-day sentence. Story barely hit the papers....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_professional_sportspeople_convicted_of_crimes”

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6. clockstreet doesn't have a clock said... on Aug 19, 2009 at 11:09AM


I think it was oportunistic for the EAGLES to do this when the city is broke and too many people are worried about finding or keeping a job. I think Vick and the Eagles need to pony up some hard cash for our animals to prove otherwise. I think Vick shouldn't touch a hair on an animal's head while he's in Philly. I think we can use this to change how criminal behavior from Athletes is dealt with (currently ignored, or just a media blitz). I think the city can make a case for how this will alter law enforcement needs for the city for the next few years. Also, I think an attempt to ban Vick is a dark mark against all people attempting rehabilitaion or re-entry and therefor ill advised.”

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7. selwyn marock said... on Aug 20, 2009 at 01:30AM

“I agree with most of this article barring the fact that Vick is not solely responsible
for giving these poor animals a bad rap.BSL is being promoted by Thugs like Kory
Nelson and Doug Kelley of Denver,Pizano and Sean Gallagher of Dade County.These Savages are responsible for the deaths of many thousands of family pets and they have not spent any jailtime they are protected by the beurocracy.
I am not a Vick fan and I abhor Dog-fighting but in the areas I have mentioned
Little or nothing is done to address this Evil passtime ,dog-fighting it is much too
easy to go after the innocent and their family pets.
smarock10@yahoo.com”

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8. Peter C. said... on Aug 20, 2009 at 01:52PM

“Wayne Pacele the pres. of The HUMAN Society of the U.S.> is solely responsible for Vicks return. They made a deal to make MV a "poster boy" in order to fund raise and make millions from this disgusting issue. The money finds its way into pacelle's pocket. Wayne Pacelle is a low-life BOTTOM-FEEDER who is exploiting a sick person (psychopath) as well as pilfering all the monies that should be going to the poor animals. He is as EQUALLY disgusting as MV. here are my references. all americans should read this before they die and leave their estates and fortunes to Pacelle's GREED.
.
Unholy alliance
http://marilynw19.wordpress.com/2009/05/25/vick-and-the-hsus-an-unholy-alliance/
.
In Bed with Monsters
http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=1174

Most Sincerely,
Peter C.
Stuart, FL
Help@ StopMichaelVick.com

http://www.StopMichaelVick.com
(free bumper sticker detailed list of sponsors for NFL and Eagles)

Currently organizing protest rallies at every NFL stadium on Sept 13th,”

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9. Peter C said... on Aug 20, 2009 at 01:56PM

“Let us not be completely stupid. Everywhere MV goes he is followed by 200 little kids that want his autograph. That's NO LIE. The same hands that sign the autographs are the SAME HANDS that hooked up jumper cables between a dog’s ears, threw him in a swimming pool and laughed while the dog screamed in AGONY. I am sorry to sway your opinion sir, but it will be a sorry day EVEN IN HELL when the torture and mutilation of dogs is socially accepted in this country. Soon, every kid in every ghetto will want to have a red-nosed pitbull so he can be JUST LIKE MV7. dog-fighting will become as commonplace as tattoos and baggy pants. The outrage should not be directed at MV himself. (He is simply a sick person being exploited BY big money- FOR big money) but rather at what he now REPERSENTS. He can NEVER walk with the likes of Broadway Joe, Johnny Unitas, Joe Montana, Dan Marino, Roger Stauback… NEVER!!!”

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10. Peter C said... on Aug 20, 2009 at 01:58PM

“Sports headlines in January 2010 may very well read.

Vick / Eagles win Super Bowl- Main Street Parade led by the most notorious animal torturer / mutilator of the modern era.

I ask you sir, would you let him KISS YOUR BABY? I wish Americans should stop and THINK exactly what it means to support Michael Vick. The second MV sets TOE on an NFL gridiron, The NFL will slap the face of not only Americans, but the face of every HUMAN that walks this earth with head up and any sense of moral Decency

Most Sincerely,
Peter C.
Stuart, FL
Help@StopMichaelVick.com

http://www.StopMichaelVick.com
(free bumper sticker detailed list of sponsors for NFL and Eagles)

Currently organizing protest rallies at every NFL stadium on Sept 13th, and every game thereafter until MV is pushing a MOP to earn a living.

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11. mr. b.r. clark said... on Aug 20, 2009 at 09:15PM

“excuse me peter c, i do not think every kid in every ghetto will want to have pitbull so they can be like mike vick, nor do i think dog-fighting will become as commonplace as tattoos and baggy pants. it is a shame that you think black youths will emulate the negative actions that vick has done.

second of all, what if vick donated all the money he had? would that help him get on with his life? no, it would not. why? the answer is simple: people will not let him forget. the man has served his time in prison and yet people still harass him.

it is shame that people can have so much hatred in their hearts against a person who has not in any way, shape or form harmed them. is all we americans care about is hating one another and the love of money?”

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12. Anonymous said... on Aug 21, 2009 at 07:12PM

“Thanks for educating the public on the HSUS. when the HSUS teamed up with Mike Vick. The HSUS is Not fond of "second chances" for dogs based on it's very recent history; as follows:

Wilkes NC Pit Bull Fighting Raid. This February 2009 HSUS lawyers pleaded to the court to euthanize all 145 Pit Bulls including 75 puppies due to a 20 year old policy of HSUS to euthanize any fighting dogs seized HSUS investigations.

Best Friends Animal Santurary lawyers went to court, offered to fund,house and rehabilitate the 145 dogs based on it's success from the rehabilitation of the Vick Dogs "Victory Dogs", two are now therapy dogs. The court awarded the HSUS the dogs,in turn all 145 dogs including the puppies were euthanized. This was a cruel position for the HSUS to take based on it's 11 millions members, that is not what they expect.

Article: PR Web-"Coalition urges HSUS to revise policy on dogs seized in fighting bust" Second chances?”

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13. BKelly said... on Aug 22, 2009 at 04:22PM

“To Scott and Mr. B. R. Clark,
You are both idiots...heartless ones at that. I suggest you listen to Vick's own admissions of the atrocities inflicted on the dogs in his care. And I beg to disagree with you Scott...Pit Bulls are NOT blood thirsty, unpredictable, and agressive....you are ignorant sir. Pit Bulls are loyal and extremely people-friendly...first, since being trained for the fighting pits...these dogs have been culled consistently and any dog that showed human agression was put down...why do you think that the dog handlers are in the pit with the dogs during a fight...do you think that if the dogs were human agressive these fight handlers would be in the pits in the heat of the action. You sir are a moron. I am entirely sick of uninformed, unintelligent people such as you Scott. Go do some reading...better yet, why don't you listen to Michael's own description of the things he did to these dogs. Better yet...watch this video and get educated.”

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14. BKelly said... on Aug 22, 2009 at 04:25PM

“The web site for you, Scott:

http://www.motionbox.com/videos/7a9bd8b61e18e4c1f5?type=sd&utm_campaign=over-playcap&utm_medium=player&utm_source=pitbullpositive.ning.com

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15. Hillary said... on Aug 23, 2009 at 03:16PM

“As an employee of the HSUS (an organization with many staff who own and love pit bulls), I think it's fair to say that Michael Vick needs to do significant, long-term community service before he and the rest of us can move beyond his terrible past. But if we don't provide an opportunity for him to speak out forcefully against dogfighting, what have we accomplished for the dogs who are still stuck in this miserable existence? These pit bulls don't benefit from the continual condemnation of Michael Vick; they benefit when this illegal activity is stopped.”

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16. Scott said... on Aug 24, 2009 at 10:55AM

“Hey BKelly,

Your a typical extremest.

Did I ever say Pit Bills were bloodthirsty? No. See the facts yourself in the CDC report:

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published in 2000 a study on dog bite-related fatalities (DBRF) that covered the years 1979-1998. The report found that

"the data indicate that Rottweilers and pit bull-type dogs accounted for 67% of human DBRF in the United States between 1997 and 1998. It is extremely unlikely that they accounted for anywhere near 60% of dogs in the United States during that same period and, thus, there appears to be a breed-specific problem with fatalities."

Mistrust of what "loyalty" means to Pitt Bulls owners CAN and DO result in unintended human injuries and fatalities, especially when the dog might be having a bad day. Accidents do happen, but why tempt fate with a breed known, on the wrong day, that can have a fatal result. Think of that the next time you see a 4 year odl playing with an adult Pitt Bull.”

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17. Scott said... on Aug 24, 2009 at 11:08AM

“I just think that there are certain breeds of dogs that just should not be owned in urban environments and the people who do own therm should be required to get a special license. Face it, Labs, Goldens, Collies, Bulldogs and Shit-Zu's are not known for attacking people... Regardless of how good or bad the owners are these dogs CAN be (not ARE or all of them) very dangerous.”

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18. tara murtha said... on Aug 24, 2009 at 05:18PM

“Of interest:

http://www.newyorker.com/archive/2006/02/06/060206fa_fact”

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19. mr. b.r. clark said... on Aug 24, 2009 at 07:09PM

“excuse me bkelly, i would really like to know how i am a heartless idiot. i find it hard to believe that because i do not insult the youth of america and refuse to value the life of a dog above the life of a human being, i am a heartless idiot.

it is a shame that vick allowed such atrocites to hapen, there isno denying that. all i was trying to say (not that i have to explain myself to you) is that all the money in the world wil not change what happened to those poor, helpless animals.

i am not defending vick's actions, but i seriously want to know: what must vick do to make you happy? what will it take for that man to get on with his life? like i said, why must we hate someone who has done nothing wrong to us. i have two wonderful pitbulls, and i would notgive them up for anything, but has vick caused any harm to them? no, so please, please bkelly, forgive me for being a heartless idiot.”

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20. Bethsoda said... on Aug 26, 2009 at 02:05PM

“To Scott in particular - Have you ever met a pet pit bull? I have and they are some of the sweetest dogs I have ever met - they aren't the only types of dogs that can do damage to others and most properly trained pits and even rescue pits would be very unlikely to hurt a human that was not trying to hurt them (or that they didn't believe might be trying to hurt them after suffering years of tortue and abuse from humans). Also, while those numbers may be valid - what is the context? how many of these dogs were bred adn trained for fighting and again, spent most of not all of their lives only being harmed by humans? Can you tell me that? I'll post a portion of this below, but do me a favor and check out the description of pit bulls given by the United Kennel Club - a highly respected authority on dogs: http://www.ukcdogs.com/WebSite.nsf/Breeds/AmericanPitBullTerrierRevisedNovember12008”

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21. Bethsoda said... on Aug 26, 2009 at 02:07PM

“"The essential characteristics of the American Pit Bull Terrier are strength, confidence, and zest for life. This breed is eager to please and brimming over with enthusiasm. APBTs make excellent family companions and have always been noted for their love of children. Because most APBTs exhibit some level of dog aggression and because of its powerful physique, the APBT requires an owner who will carefully socialize and obedience train the dog. The breed’s natural agility makes it one of the most capable canine climbers so good fencing is a must for this breed. The APBT is not the best choice for a guard dog since they are extremely friendly, even with strangers. Aggressive behavior toward humans is uncharacteristic of the breed and highly undesirable. This breed does very well in performance events because of its high level of intelligence and its willingness to work."

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22. Bethsoda said... on Aug 26, 2009 at 02:12PM

“Also, check this out: http://www.dontbullymybreed.org/

And, for Scott (and others who belive that pit bills are fundamentally "bad" dogs) even if you don't like them, do you really believe it is ok for them to be fought, abused, and tortured?”

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23. Anonymous said... on Aug 27, 2009 at 05:20PM

“Scott I suggest you read "Pitbull Placebo," free download available on the Net. Even the CDC gave up trying to classify breed-specific bite analyses because it was too difficult to determine numbers and breeds accurately.

Also if you research the "pit" bull "breed" issue at all you will come to wonder why there aren't many MORE bites and deaths from bully-type dogs, when they are indisputably the most abused and tortured of the canines. It is a testament to these dogs that most remain able to love and live as pets under such incredible cruelty.

I find that many people speak from generalizations and things they have read. I can only say that in my personal experience what you say has not been true at all. In fact, I also thought "pit" bulls were dreadful, vicious monsters that would one day "turn" on you.

Then I got one by default and was faced with the reality of the best, most loyal, sweet dog I have ever known in my life. I have had chihuahuahs, mixed breeds, shepherds, jindos - and the "pit" bull had by far the best temperament. He was stepped on by children, bitten by other dogs and he never once retaliated.

I think the reason so many people are rabid devotees of "pit" bulls is because they realize how wonderful these dogs can be when they are not tortured. To see one being harmed and turned into something bad by human beings, is like watching a child being abused. It cuts to the soul.

As to people who say dogfighting is less important an issue than human-on-human crime, did you not read the article? It is a fact that people who harm these dogs and use them for fighting, are also involved in very severe human crimes - rape, drug dealing, theft, and murder. It is all linked together.

When we cry for justice for these abused animals we are asking that human beings step up to the plate in defending the defenseless, whatever the species. This kind of torture-for-pleasure should be unacceptable in any form.

Would you have people shrug their shoulders over this type of behavior? Are you okay with little boys and girls being taken by their parents to watch dogs tear each other to death and then beaten and/or killed in vicious manners? What does this do to the HUMAN beings who witness this?

If we ignore or belittle the significance of dogfighting, these criminals will continue to thrive and their "other" activities will, too.”

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24. Anonymous said... on Aug 27, 2009 at 05:21PM

“Scott I suggest you read "Pitbull Placebo," free download available on the Net. Even the CDC gave up trying to classify breed-specific bite analyses because it was too difficult to determine numbers and breeds accurately.

Also if you research the "pit" bull "breed" issue at all you will come to wonder why there aren't many MORE bites and deaths from bully-type dogs, when they are indisputably the most abused and tortured of the canines. It is a testament to these dogs that most remain able to love and live as pets under such incredible cruelty.

I find that many people speak from generalizations and things they have read. I can only say that in my personal experience what you say has not been true at all. In fact, I also thought "pit" bulls were dreadful, vicious monsters that would one day "turn" on you.

Then I got one by default and was faced with the reality of the best, most loyal, sweet dog I have ever known in my life. I have had chihuahuahs, mixed breeds, shepherds, jindos - and the "pit" bull had by far the best temperament. He was stepped on by children, bitten by other dogs and he never once retaliated.

I think the reason so many people are rabid devotees of "pit" bulls is because they realize how wonderful these dogs can be when they are not tortured. To see one being harmed and turned into something bad by human beings, is like watching a child being abused. It cuts to the soul.

As to people who say dogfighting is less important an issue than human-on-human crime, did you not read the article? It is a fact that people who harm these dogs and use them for fighting, are also involved in very severe human crimes - rape, drug dealing, theft, and murder. It is all linked together.

When we cry for justice for these abused animals we are asking that human beings step up to the plate in defending the defenseless, whatever the species. This kind of torture-for-pleasure should be unacceptable in any form.

Would you have people shrug their shoulders over this type of behavior? Are you okay with little boys and girls being taken by their parents to watch dogs tear each other to death and then beaten and/or killed in vicious manners? What does this do to the HUMAN beings who witness this?

If we ignore or belittle the significance of dogfighting, these criminals will continue to thrive and their "other" activities will, too.”

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25. Anonymous said... on Aug 28, 2009 at 04:56AM

“Nice Article!”

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26. Debi C said... on Aug 28, 2009 at 04:16PM

“Robert is right. All the professional athletes who break the laws need to have their feet held to the fire. If the do the crime, they should do REAL time. Cornelius Bennett and Donte Stallworth received ridiculous sentences for rape and murder. But we, the public, are the ones letting them walk the streets. Just because they make 7 figure salaries doesn't mean they shouldn't be held accountable for their evil. They should all PAY Lady Justice just like us common people whether their crimes are against humans or animals. Wickedness is unacceptable in any form.”

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27. Anonymous said... on Feb 13, 2010 at 04:04AM

“Pitbulls are very loyal dogs. If there is a pitbull running around odds are that it was mistreated or was raised in the 'wild'. Both of these result in the dogs agressive nature to kick in and attack anything that appears as a threat or as food. I have known people that have had very loving and loyal pitbulls hat wouldn't hurt a fly.”

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