What a disturbing coincidence.
Exactly 20 years ago this month, the editors at Sports Illustrated lost their minds and branded a new Media Monster with this infamous cover. This, back when the doberman fad was big and most people had no idea what a pit bull was, much less the wanna-be thugs. Many will point to this issue's arrival as the pivotal moment when the bad guys of the world decided they had to get their hands on these bad ass, scary looking dogs that everyone seemed to fear. Talk about a status symbol!
Michael Vick was an eight year old kid when this issue came out. There's no way that this cover didn't make a lasting impression on him, or any young guy that looks up to SI as the final word in what's fast, cool and worth getting excited about.
The sports world has not been kind to pit bulls, starting with this 1987 character assassination. Numerous sports figures have since been linked to dog fighting, and even the tennis shoe moguls (Nike) found a way to exploit the dogs and make a buck off of graphic fight imagery. Why treat them kindly when they're really werewolves? ....And, here we are today, reading about the unspeakable torture of mans' best friend.
We don't need to detail how horrific the crime of dogfighting is. There's enough gore spinning around the Net to cover that angle.
But, we do need to remember -- the dogs. Where are the dogs in all of this?
We started wondering when the HSUS put out a public plea for funds "to care for the dogs seized in the Michael Vick case." We're not sure how the word 'care' is being defined ... toys and treats? kuranda beds? staff help for yard exercise? (doubtful)... although it's certain the dogs will be destroyed in due time. The HSUS has been staunchly opposed to re-homing abused pit bulls and will dutifully insist that each and every fight bust dog is damaged and dangerous. EDIT: The HSUS fundraising campaign "to for care the dogs" was a scam. Sources on the inside tell us that federal government officials, angered that their case was being endangered by a brazen call for funds, delivered a cease and desist letter to pull the solicitations. More info on the campaign and screen capture.
We know the judgements levied against dogs from fight busts are not altogether true.
We have dogs like Amy, Hiro, BB, Sadie, Lil'Bit, Pearl, Doe Koo, and even Little Man (right) - all from fight backgrounds - to remind us that the soundest of dogs really can and do rise above the harshest of beginnings. Even more astounding, many somehow survive the torture and starvation with their adoration for humans still intact. Talk about optimists. I can't fathom how this breed can possibly trust despite having seen the worst side of humanity, but they just keep surprising us.
Pity the Vick dogs. Had they somehow washed up out of their pens in the storms of Katrina, they would've been made into media darlings. Volunteers would've rushed to bathe and comfort them (many quite wonderful Katrina pit bulls came with fight scars from pre-storm misadventures). Some might've ended up in shelters willing and able to temperament test and offer the best for adoption. But no such luck -- they were doubly cursed when they were sold into that VA hellhole.
As far as we know, the dogs are not destined to receive a fair trial. For the sake of those dogs who may still be sane and hopeful and willing to trust, that really sucks.