Something has been going seriously wrong for animals and their advocates in Philadelphia, PA. Since Vick's jail sentence was announced in December 2007, over two dozen crimes committed against companion animals were reported in this city. (Source: Pet-abuse.com) Some say the trend of animal abuse is on the rise. George Bengal, the Philly SPCA director of law enforcement, was quoted to say, “I've been doing this job for 18 years and I’ve never seen the amount of starved to death dogs or fighting dogs that have been killed in various locations around the city.”
The abuses go above and beyond staged dog fights. Young people in Philadelphia have been staging very purposeful acts of violent torture.
Last September, "a horrified neighbor called the Pennsylvania SPCA after witnessing four teenagers walk a young pit bull to the commuter rail tracks near Front Street and Tabor Road. The teens wrapped a towel around the dog, doused it with lighter fluid, and then set it ablaze." The dog was charred and smoldering when officers arrived at the scene. Back in January, "the battered body of a dead pit bull, stoned with chunks of concrete and bricks, was found hanging from a railing at an abandoned school." Source I could go on with the long list of gruesome reports, but you get the picture.
The City of Brotherly Love is certainly facing some very real challenges with seeing that love distributed to its four-legged brothers, pit bulls especially. And now they have one of the world's most infamous torturers prepped to sign autographs for young people who will, undoubtedly, look up to him as their gladiator hero.
What a shame that they don't have one of the good guys from the NFL who have proven their commitment to compassion. Like former Raider Jarrod Cooper (below), a volunteer at Oakland Animal Services whose concern for animals needs no scripting from media savvy PR coaches. After all, as author Kitty Kelly has said, "A hero is someone we can admire without apology."
My heart sank for Philly when I heard the news of Vick signing with the Eagles. My first thought was for of all the people on the ground who work day in and day out there to sort through this terrible trend - and for the pit bulls especially, who suffer a disproportionate amount of the abuse. I can only imagine some animal workers may be so utterly discouraged that they throw their hands in the air and leave the city that has decided to embrace a man who laughed - laughed - while dogs were crying out in pain.
(Question: Does laughing during torture count as a "mistake?")
I don't know what we can possible say to console you, Philly animal defenders, but please know that we're thinking of you today and the terribly difficult situation you're facing in your town.