Friday, May 22, 2009

Op-Eds on the Vick news

This email inquiry came in last night.
Hello. I have been following the Michael Vick story and am wondering where BADRAP stands. I didn't see anything on the web site. I read in the news that the HSUS has met with him. Since BADRAP took in so many of his beautiful dogs, I thought you guys would be worth listening to on the topic. Is there any indication that he is sincere and recognizes how bad his actions were? Has he actually done anything to show remorse for his cruelty to the dogs you took in? My gut-reaction is to be very dubious. There's just too much money at stake for him if no NFL team will take him on because of this. I think that any public-service ad he does for the HSUS is too little ... too easy. But, I'm just an observer in the whole mess. You guys saw it up-close and I would trust your judgment on the current situation.

Good question. Because we're a group of many individuals who've been deeply involved as well as personally affected by the case, we've resisted forming an official BR statement on Vick's reported attempts to redeem his image. But I thought I would post a few of our individual opinions here for those who may be curious.

From Tim Racer - It is no mystery that Michael Vick wants another chance at the game, the money, and the fame that he once possessed. I am all about forgiveness and second chances – when one is truly remorseful . There is of course a world of difference between feeling badly about a wrong doing, and feeling badly about being caught. Who knows where Roger Goodell stands on this? I am disappointed that there has to be so much time spent to make such a seemingly simple decision about whether this man should ever play the game again. He ran a major felony dog-fighting operation since he first became a professional ball player – for his entire six year career. He fought and he killed countless innocent animals, some by repeatedly slamming their skulls and spines into the ground until they broke. What exactly *does it take to be released from the NFL?

Twenty three months in prison does not make a sick (in the truly medical sense of the term) individual like Vick, better. Mike has teamed up with the HSUS to to good things now. His agents made it so. Good move. Maybe that will help him play again.

For those who believe Vick has paid his dues, I would have to differ. He has not and will not spend a single day behind bars for animal cruelty as his federal charges were for racketeering. And as for remorse, Vick pled NOT GUILTY to animal cruelty charges at his state trial – and it was dropped in a plea deal. How can this man be remorseful for his crimes if he does not even believe he was cruel to animals?

From Nicole Rattay, who cared for the dogs in VA, and now provides a home for the very damaged Iggy -
Michael Vick has a history of negative behavior. His release from incarceration is only the most recent chance he has been given. How many does he deserve? I don't know. What I do know is that real, lasting change takes hard work. Work that so far Mr. Vick has failed to demonstrate a willingness or ability to do. It would be nice if he were able to maintain some positive changes in his life, I guess time will tell.

From Letti, Uba's adopter - Vick has a huge opportunity to turn his life around and make some very positive changes for himself and the dogs he tortured. Pit bulls and their owners have to constantly prove to the world that pre-concieved notions about pit bulls are misguided. Vick is facing the same up hill battle to show dog lovers that he truly understands his offenses and that he can change. When we take our dogs out in public, we hope that people are open minded enough to accept our dogs and learn about the true nature of pit bulls, so we should also endeavor to be open minded enough to allow Vick to attempt his own redemption. As Kathleen said, I hope that Vick has the tools to change.

From me (Donna) - I admit I'm stuck on this one because I just can't get myself away from the swimming pool in Vick's yard. I first learned about it while riding in the back seat of a federal agent's car that sweltering Tuesday back in Sept 07. The agent was assigned with escorting us to the various Virginia shelters so we could evaluate "the evidence" otherwise known as 49 pit bulls - now known as cherished family pets: Hector, Uba, Jhumpa, Georgia, Sweet Jasmine and the rest. I'm not sure if sharing insider information with us was kosher, but you know how driving down long country roads can get you talking. I imagine she just needed to get some things off her chest. She said she was having trouble sleeping since the day they exhumed the bodies on the Moonlight Road property. She said that when she watched the investigators uncover the shallow graves, she was compelled to want to climb in and pick up the decomposing dogs and comfort and cradle them. She knew that was crazy talk, and she was grappling with trying to understand such a surprising impulse.

Her candor set the tone for this entire saga. Everyone we worked with was deeply affected by the case. The details that got to me then and stay with me today involve the swimming pool that was used to kill some of the dogs. Jumper cables were clipped onto the ears of underperforming dogs, then, just like with a car, the cables were connected to the terminals of car batteries before lifting and tossing the shamed dogs into the water. Most of Vick's dogs were small - 40lbs or so - so tossing them in would've been fast and easy work for thick athlete arms. We don't know how many suffered this premeditated murder, but the damage to the pool walls tells a story. It seems that while they were scrambling to escape, they scratched and clawed at the pool liner and bit at the dented aluminum sides like a hungry dog on a tin can.

I wear some pretty thick skin during our work with dogs, but I can't shake my minds-eye image of a little black dog splashing frantically in bloody water ... screaming in pain and terror ... brown eyes saucer wide and tiny black white-toed feet clawing at anything, desperate to get ahold. This death did not come quickly. The rescuer in me keeps trying to think of a way to go back in time and somehow stop this torture and pull the little dog to safety. I think I'll be looking for ways to pull that dog out for the rest of my life.

So that's where I'm at. A second chance for Vick?
An HSUS sponsored spokesman for ending torture? In my mind's eye Vick is still in the shadows at the side of that pool. As many times as this scene plays out my head, he hasn't yet moved towards that dog to pull him out. Not there yet.

That's it for now. We may hear from more of the foster homes and adopters as the news unfolds.


Anonymous said...

Oh MY GOD! Oh MY GOD! I am so sorry Donna that you will have that image of the pool for the rest of your days. When I read your words, the pain and torture these animals endurred ripped through and pierced my being, and although I too was on the fence on this issue - I am no longer. Vick is a sick sociopath - letting him have any exposure to children or enabling him to secure his football career is irresponsible at best and poses a danger to society. Shame on Wayne. I've read that Vick deserves another chance to redeem himself- the same as our dogs - but he had choices, our dogs do not. Sociopaths do not redeem themselves - they progress to other forms of abuse and torture. - Lynn in N.Cal

Dianne in DC said...

You might take a look at the HSUS web site and read about the dog fighting program. They get the kids involved in training their dogs and it changes the way the kids and the adults see the dogs. It's the difference between a 16 year old being proud of his dog for harming another dog, to be proud of his dog doing a sit-stay and then come.

I can't help but agree with you, but Vick is so charismatic and could do so much to help.

Anonymous said...

All I can say is that I have tears running down my face from your story Donna. I don't think I was ever really on the fence from this case and if I could ever forgive him, but I know that I never will. I fully don't know that I could get that image out of my head either. Bless you, bless you for your courage, your strength, your knowledge and your love for all the dogs you encounter. I've said it before and I'll continue to say it time and time again Thank You!! Thank You!! for everything you do.
~Leah in TX

Suzi Riot said...

My thanks to all of you who shared your feelings and opinions on this issue.

Donna... while your words were VERY difficult for me to read, I know that it was a million times more difficult for you and the other rescue workers to experience. I've been a shelter volunteer for a number of years now, but I have never had to deal with the horror stories that the actual rescuers face daily. Bully lovers and advocates like myself can NEVER thank you and your colleagues enough for the work you do on behalf of our cherished companions. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Now I have to go hug and kiss my own little rescued bullies very, very hard!

Walter said...

I can't beleive the pool story. To say that's awful is a huge understatement. How? How can someone do that? As much as I wish I had Lettis incredible wise and forgiving attitude, after that, I can't.

Anonymous said...

Donna, I can't imagine the things you or anyone else saw, just reading/hearing about them make me sick. I thank God daily for wonderful people like you! You and everyone else that helped these dogs are angels.

Vick has not done enough. He's a very sick person that IMO, should never be reinstated as a football player. These people are role models to kids, and should behave appropriately off and on field.

the slackmistress said...

I don't want Vick reinstated. He hasn't shown remorse, and the HSUS PSAs are more about image than anything else.

I've shared my thoughts here:

That blog post also includes Roger Gooddell's email for those who would like to write.

Best to you all.

Sarah said...

Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and especially for carrying so much pain for these dogs in the hopes of making a better world for them.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to say thank you so much for posting your comments regarding Michael Vick. I, just as the emailer expressed, have been frequently checking your website to get your opinion on the situation. I, too, feel that his "remorse" is suspect. BUT, because of your experience and your great love for all of Vick's former dogs I wanted to know what YOU thought. THANK YOU SO MUCH for sharing your thoughts and feelings with us.

Anonymous said...

I am so sorry Donna. I often think of you & Tim & the horrors you see daily & I pray you will have the strength to stay strong in your resolve. I believe in forgiveness but I also feel certain things are most definitely unforgivable & this is may be one of them becuase I have yet to see an ounce of remorse from this guy. No tears, no shame, no nothin. All he wants is his career & money back. I don't think he has ever given those lovely, sweet, innocent dogs he murdered a second thought. Those dogs paid the ultimate price for his inhumanity & I feel it is time he paid. I believe he has yet to pay his debt to society. His sentence was nothing compared to what he did & he didn’t even have to serve all of it. He committed first-degree murder in my eyes & he has not done a damn thing to redeem himself. He needs to walk around everyday with the pictures of the dogs he murdered around his neck & when people ask him what the pictures are for, he should be made to tell the truth, I brutally murdered these animals & I want to earn redemption by helping to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I might have a change of heart if I heard he was at a shelter bright & early willing to do what ever he could but all he seems to care about is playing football again & I for one would boycott any team including my beloved 49r's if they were to hire him. So maybe he needs to rethink his next career move & become an advocate for the dogs, really, not just cause its good press.
Bless you, Tim & all the BR gang. I am so proud to know human beings like you.
Take care,

Donna said...

You guys are so kind to worry about us. Don't - We have thick steely scaley skins for this work. It's just that every now and then, a little something leaks though.

I appreciate hearing everyone's perspective. This is not an easy topic to sift thru.

Anonymous said...

Oh my God Donna! That is one of the most horrifying things that I have ever heard. As far as Vick goes, the man is common gutter trash. He is not sorry for what he did to the dogs, he is sorry that he got caught. Growing up, I remember when the NFL was full of role models. Now they are a bunch of punks, drug dealers, rapists, murderers of humans and dogs. They have become a true disgrace, with Vick their poster boy. Seeing his face turns my stomach. He can apologize till he is blue in the face, and I will never believe him. This country turns monsters loose everyday. How many sex offenders are repeat offenders? How many child molesters are repeat offenders? Now let's turn this freak loose so he can go back to making millions and figure out a better way to run his underground dog ring? What the f#%k is going on around here?

As you can see, I am pissed!

Debi said...

I admire all BR does for the bully breed. I truly love pit bulls and when I'm ready both financially and emotionally to get another dog after losing Buddy it will be nothing but a pit bull.

As far as Vick goes, He committed a felony. A heinous crime on a living creature. He should never be allowed to play professional football again.

I will never watch a football game again if Vick plays again.

Kathy B said...

Donna, you are a very gifted writer that gets to the heart of the matter and the heart of your reader. Vick -- no forgiveness from me. Vick back in football??? No ..... football is a violent game and I am sickened by the violence that is encouraged, revered and rewarded in that arena.
Ask me again years from now when/if Vick consistently volunteers, donates, etc. etc. to the care of animals..then I'll reconsider.

Millie - Ft Myers said...

Vick's dead dogs will never "play" again...why should he be given that priviledge? To let the man play ball and become a millionaire once again, to have the ability to regain his old lifestyle and comfort, to pick up his life as if this never happened and it become a distant memory to him after a signed contract CANNOT HAPPEN. I will sign every petition, write any editorial, boycott any team and the NFL, do anything one person can do to make sure this never happens. THIS CANNOT HAPPEN

R3K9S said...

Tears are streaming down my face after reading about the swimming pool.."can't shake my minds-eye image of a little black dog splashing frantically ... screaming in pain and terror ... brown eyes saucer wide and tiny black white-toed feet clawing at anything, desperate to get ahold."

I just wanted to thank you for all you, BAD RAP, and the other organizations have done.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your graphic reminder of what really happened to those innocent creatures in that hellhole Vick bought and paid for with his big, fat, NFL contract, Donna. I'm sorry you had to witness it at all, but it bears repeating- these so called 'men' did not humanely euthanize dogs who did not make the cut for their heinous operation. They actually sat around and thought up indescribably cruel methods of torture and agonizing death for their own pleasure and entertainment. Who watches while another living thing screams, bleeds, shatters, and slowly dies under his own hand? I'll tell you who- Vlad the Impaler, Josef Mengele, Saddam Hussein... people whom have been granted the title, "monster" by humanity and will forever be hated and reviled. Let us not forget this as we struggle with 'forgiveness' of Vick and his cronies who clipped jumper cables to dogs' ears and slammed their broken bodies into the concrete. Is it possible that they were just disadvantaged and didn't know any better and they're "all better now"? I don't! I don't think evil can be expunged.

And for those of you who think, "It's not the same as torturing humans", I give you this from Arthur Schopenhauer's (1788-1860), The Basis of Morality:

"Since compassion for animals is so intimately associated with goodness of character, it may be confidently asserted that whoever is cruel to animals cannot be a good man."

And this from ethicist Dr. Davis Strauss:

"Criminal history shows us how many torturers of men, and murderers, have first been torturers of animals. The manner in which a nation, in the aggregate, treats other species, is one chief measure of its real civilisation.

And finally, from St. Francis of Assisi :

"If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

Did you feel like a big man, Mike, when you watched those dogs' eyes roll back in their skulls as the rictus of death overtook them? Did you get a little thrill when you were victorious over their desperate struggles to live? Did you feel like a real winner when you dragged them from the pit, bloodied, limping on broken front legs, shaking and weak from shock and exhaustion, knowing you made money from their suffering? Did you have to clean the blood and urine and saliva off your hands before you counted your wad? I hear it makes the bills stick together. Do you still feel 'not guilty' Vick? I'd really like to know.

Windy and the Pittie Grrrls

Janet said...

This post cut straight to my heart.

But I do think the proposed alliance would be beneficial. I posted why at my blog:

Whatever criticism we have of the HSUS they are a marketing powerhouse and if they do this right I don't care about their ulterior motives. Letting Vick go back to being a football star w/o using him to rectify his murders would be negligent, to say the least. (I only wish he'd work with BadRap b/c I know you guys would KICK his ASS - professionally, of course.)

Trish said...

Donna - When in rescue some things never leave you and certain images and are never far from the surface. To be able to keep rescuing and keep caring is what sets you, Tim, and rest apart. Thanks so much for all you do.

I am sure I will have many that disagree with me...but giving Vick another chance...not in my opinion...I'd really rather have the chance to have a large pool a really big car battery and enough strengh in my body to toss Vick in.......

Anonymous said...

NO REDEMPTION for Vick, ever. I didn't know about the swimming pool, but I knew about how he personally killed dogs by slamming them to the ground. That knowledge alone was enough for me to know he is a monster. I cannot even begin to understand how a person could ever do this to another living being.

Forgive? How? There are monsters throughout history that are beyond redemption: Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Jeffrey Dahmer and Charles Manson come quickly to mind. I add Vick to that list.

I've read that Vick's former dogs, were they to encounter him today, would almost certainly greet him with wagging tails and warm lick on his hand. If one's ability to forgive is a reflection of one's humanity, his dogs are better "people" than I will ever be.

There is no HSUS PSA nor public appearance nor sum of money donated by him that will ever equate to his redemption in my mind.

Rot in hell, Michael Vick, rot in hell.


Jenn said...

Donna - you and Tim...I just don't have words for how much I admire you. Even if I tried to voice it, I would fall far short. I don't know how you do it, but I thank the gods that you can and do.

Now on to Michael who I feel so much less for. For Vick to be reinstated, he will have to keep his nose clean until July. The last time he was on house arrest, he failed a drug test and ended up in prison. I would be shocked if he could make it two months without violating the terms of his house arrest. He doesn't think the rules apply to him because they never have in the past up until this conviction. He has to walk a very thin line and has little margin for error. He has shown repeatedly in his career and his life that he can't handle that kind of pressure. If he makes it until July with his nose clean, Goodell will have no choice but to reinstate him. The NFL is filled with murderers of people. You cannot deny a murderer of dogs if you are allowing those other men to play. How can you say that the dogs lives are more valuable than the single mother that Leonard Little killed when he drove drunk and ran a red light just before his rookie season? That was in August and he STARTED the first game of the season the next month. As detestable as we all think it is, that is the way of the NFL. Besides, Vick has never lived up to the hype. We were still hearing up until his conviction that THIS is the season Vick will emerge as the Hall of Fame QB he was touted to be. He's been out of football for two years and he wasn't anything more than "potential" when he played. He will not get that huge contract he is hoping for. No team is that desperate. They know taking him is a risk both on and off the field. They're not going to pay millions knowing the picketing and protesting that will follow Vick, the cancellation of some season ticket holders and the fact that he will never be more than a thug. I will delight in watching him fail once he's been reinstated. That way the Vick supporters can see that there is no one but Vick to blame in the end. He will have gotten his shot at redemption and will have failed miserably because that is the story of his thug life.

Anonymous said...

WOW! There is a special place in the afterlife for all of you! Tim's point was incredible and very logical...Donna, your story has me in tears!

Yes, he should be allowed to earn a living; maybe being a construction worker, a janitor, an accountant (what was his degree in from college?) etc. He does not HAVE to return to earning millions and being idolized again. Sure, NFL "allow" him to play again, but if I were an owner of a team, I wouldn't touch him with a 50 ft pole...what a PR nightmare it would be for them, they would lose so much money and receive so much bad press...

Again, thank you all for what you do and making my Libby's life a little easier everyday...we are truly better individuals for reading about your wonderful work.

Lori & Mark

Anonymous said...

I didn't know the details of the pool. I feel sick. I don't think I'm big enough to forgive Vick, ever. I didn't have it in me before, and now especially after reading that it makes me seethe again.

RIP you poor, used dogs.

SCD said...

I will never look at a pool the same again. Sick.

He doesn't give a CRAP about these dogs, or what he did to them. Period.

You can't KILL, torture, and mutilate a living creature and not feel remorse. Unless you're a cereal killer.

Donna, you are my hero.

Cindy and the bullies baby! said...

Thank you for that story Donna and I will be stealing it. I work with Chicagoland Bully Breed rescue here in WI and do many educational and adoption events. As I stand with my Cleo (an ex fight dog confiscated here in Milwaukee) I shall share this story as I am asked what I think of Vick. It makes a powerful statement. He has no remorse and feels he did nothing wrong. And thank you bad rap for showing the world ex fighters can be rehabbed!

Mrs. Modern Tightwad said...

Thank you so much for bearing the burdens of our four-pawed friends and those of us who support from afar but are unable to be on the front lines. I am a fourth generation 49er fan, and I swear that if they take Michael Vick on that I will not support them and I will encourage every season ticket holder I know to turn them back in. I couldn't stomach to watch them again.

Anonymous said...

I find it sick and sad that it has taken so much for HSUS to finally agree that fight bust dogs deserve a chance but this human sociopath is accepted into the fold like its nothing just because he claims he's sorry.

HSUS's whole dogfighting program (both enforcement and prevention) is misguided and lacks a true understanding of that world, pit bulls and their people, and the conditions that cause this. Urban kids (the targets for their prevention efforts) who are street fighting dogs often have nothing to lose, the message that they could lose bigtime like Vick just doesn't work. At the same time, most kids who fight pit bulls, despite being engaged in a cruel practice, would never personally engage in the sick stuff Vick did. He went beyond "not knowing any better" or being raised in "culture of dogfighting." I could give another chance and expect rehabilitation from someone who just let dogs fight in a pit. Breaking dogs backs and electrocuting them is serial killer stuff and anyone who could do that isn't to ever be trusted.

No doubt HSUS has a serious hill to climb with inner city youth. Instead of allowing some sick celebrity into their program they really need to take a look at what they bring to the table for lower income, people of color and their failures reaching marginalized groups. I worked on a large HSUS campaign and was appalled at the amount of classism and racism by their staffers and volunteers. The attitude was that certain groups of people didn't care about animals and thus it was a waste of time to reach out to them but not a waste of time to make disparaging comments about various peoples and neighborhoods. With those kind of attitudes and a pretty homogenous staff, no doubt they aren't going to do well with their dogfighting prevention campaign. Vick isn't the magic ticket to ending dogfighting in urban communities (which isn't the only place it happens, by far) but if HSUS could drop that privileged white kid, nose in the air attitude about poor people and bad neighborhoods that would be a good first step. Hire local people who understand the culture around pit bulls and trust their knowledge and approach to their own neighbors. And yes, much to the surprise of so many animal rights activists, there are people in the hood who not only care about dogs but work away in their own quiet way to help animals. People with a modicum of resources and a consistent longterm role in the community where they can provide everyday guidance and resources (speuter, training, just listening to peoples problems re: dogs) are going to be much more effective than some swoop in program of do-gooders with a NFL star in tow. Of course the low key method doesn't get all the PR and flash (and thus the donations) and would require HSUS actually hiring people who aren't Ivy Leaguers and that some of their staff would probably cross the street to avoid but it would seem more genuine and do more for the people and the dogs who are living in some bleak conditions than the headlines will.

Kirsten said...

I completely agree with Anon @ 10:14 pm.

I used to work with WSPA (World Society for the Protection of Animals), and they have a similar approach to the one outlined. They do most of their work in third world countries and contend with culture, language, and economic barriers. They work as an umbrella organisation. Rather than judging the communities they enter, they locate, mobilize and support smaller org's and collectives of like-minded local citizens. It works-- they understand the culture, speak the language, and gladly work to improve their own communities. I've always admired that model.

I won't mention Vick again (for now, heh.) I jumped the gun and gave my two cents after the last post.

Anonymous said...

I came here today for the very same reason your email inquirer did--to find out your position on this news. I can understand badrap not taking an "official stand" at this point but...I hope it is done soon. Not that I dont love you folks so much and support you all unconditionally but after reading Donna's horror over the swimming pool situation, I cant help but agree Vick is a terribly sick person. Fighting dogs is one thing--it's horrible but some people are hard-hearted enough to see it simply as a business venture. But torturing the dogs the way he did--as mentioned the "premeditated" electrocution--this man is one sick devil. The absolute ONLY way I would say Vick deserves another chance at the good life would be if he submitted himself to the same torture, just for a half minute. Do ya think that will happen? NO! Of course not. Until that bastard knows exactly what his actions felt like, he'll never change. Feel free to edit my use of the word bastard if you want to, but I'd just love the chance to spit in his face, and turn a pack of rabid dogs lose on him as well.

The Foster Lady said...

Donna, as soon as I saw the word 'pool', I knew what was coming and now I feel like vomiting. I'm not very good with violence of any type (I'm one of those people that will spend time 'hiding' in a movie - finger in ears and other hand over eyes), toward anyone or any animal. I knew this was done, just not the 'method'. So now I'll work hard to push it to the back of my mind.

What I WILL keep in the front of my mind, however, is that Michael Vick is an animal torturer; he liked to hurt defenseless animals and use his power over them. He fits the DSM IV classically in regards to the definition of sociopath and sociopaths are NOT curable...EVER. He should not be out of jail; he should be nowhere near animals, or people either.

And Wayne Pacelle? He is just a money-grubbing whore as far as I am concerned.


Anonymous said...

I have met one of the Vick dogs.

She is about 40 lbs and seal colored. Your description of the pool immediately substituted the pup I have met enduring such horror. The first time I saw her I had a strong visceral reaction from seeing all the scars on her face and her mangled front legs. This girl is lucky she can walk. I cannot imagine the horrors this sweet girl has seen - but through it all she LOVES people and can't get enough. True pit bull spirit.

As far as Vick goes - he hasn't shown any remorse nor improvement. What he allowed to happen (or has done) to this sweet girl is unforgivable.

I'm sorry I cannot be as forgiving as my own pit bull.

Donna said...

Thank you all for your thoughtful feedback. We're listening.

Anonymous said...

I signed the petition "Ban Michael Vick from the NFL-Permanently". Apparently his NFL career wasn't enough for this psychopath! I'm asking you all to sign this petition to help us reach our goal of 100,000 signatures. I care deeply about this cause, and I hope you will support our efforts.

Anonymous said...

I know 3 of the S.O.B. rat bastard's former dogs. I cannot help but think how lucky those dogs were to not have been in his arms or his pool. They most likely led frightened, neglected and woeful lives prior to their liberation, but at the very least they made it out alive.

The 3 I know are sweet and wonderful loving beings. They did not require "rehabilitation"; they just needed "habilitation" -- learning how to live in a house, with common things we all take for granted. They learned that people love them.

Having read the blogs and various news reports and opinions, I still do not see how he can ever be accepted back into society as a fellow human being. He has proven that is just not what he is all about. No amount of money, or sorry, or hanging with HSUS is going to change the ugly that is the core of his being.


Anonymous said...

Although I understand the opportunity in marketing Vick to discourage youth to engage in dog fighting - I believe that the overall good or benefit from such a marketing campaign is severely overshadowed by the resulting minimization of his crimes to the dogs and society. Accepting him today as a spokesperson for anti-dog fighting basically says to America that its not that big a deal in the first place, that these people really aren't sick, and that rehabilitation isn't even necessary. We've all fought so hard to help educate America (middle class, etc.) that our dogs are victims, that these are horrific crimes and that the people who engage in these tortures and crimes are indeed sick, deranged people with the propensity to escalate their abusive behaviors to other "members" of our society. We're trying to raise the consciousness on behalf of our beloved dogs and finally - there was recognition by mainstream America that our dogs were not the monsters - but the people who fought and tortured them - were. By enlisting Vick so soon and without any demonstrated rehab or remorse - it sends the signal that his acts and torture weren't really that horrific at all - a simple jail sentence and all is good again and its really not such a huge problem in our society. To me any marketing benefit is severely limited due to the potential for setting back our overall awareness campaign on behalf of our dogs. Lynn in N Cal

Dianne in DC said...

Wayne Pacelle has some new posts on and his blog. On the main page is a slide show of the boys/men and their dogs who are in the Chicago program. There is also a testimonial from an ex-dogfighter. It is a very different culture but it looks like this program is working. Oh, and the white guy, Jeff, is the trainer.

Dianne Rhodes

Donna said...

Hi Dianne.

I think the poster at 10:14 made some very interesting comments. Check back. This part stands out and is worth re-reading.

> Urban kids (the targets for their prevention efforts) who are street fighting dogs often have nothing to lose, the message that they could lose bigtime like Vick just doesn't work. At the same time, most kids who fight pit bulls, despite being engaged in a cruel practice, would never personally engage in the sick stuff Vick did. He went beyond "not knowing any better" or being raised in "culture of dogfighting." I could give another chance and expect rehabilitation from someone who just let dogs fight in a pit. Breaking dogs backs and electrocuting them is serial killer stuff and anyone who could do that isn't to ever be trusted.

Anonymous said...

Tim & Donna, I've waited a day after reading your story about Vick's treatment of those dogs in order to allow my initial anger and disgust to subside,it hasn't. After nearly 30 years in law enforcement you can imagine that I've seen my share of horror. None of that prepared me for the revelation you provided. Vick is indeed a sociopath, plain and simple. He's dangerous and most certainly should not be allowed to hold a position in the NFL where he could be viewed as a role model for anyone. Thank you both for all you continue to do, it's truly an inspiration.


Dianne in DC said...

Hi Donna
I did read what they wrote and I found it inflammatory. It disturbs me that people would call these organizations all kinds of names simply because they are successful at raising money. But its a common feeling among the boots on the ground rescue folks. I know, some of them are my friends. I have bones to pick with both HSUS and ASPCA, but I support them both.

That said, I fully support you and Tim and the others saying you think its a bad idea. I've been wanting to be in a position to help you financially, so I am sending you a small check.

Publish if you see fit, or not.

Anonymous said...

Lets also remember that HSUS had nothing to do originally with the Chicago program - it was embraced only after it was already successful. It may be a good template to follow, but was started by a man local to the environment.

Donna said...

"Local to the environment" seems to be key. I understand that the fledgling HSUS end dog fighting program in NC was dismantled already when problems came up with the various personalities, esp. the trainers. Were they from the "local environment"? Not sure.

Dianne - I did not find 10:14's comments inflammatory, although they would have more credibility if the author identified him/herself. (I've rejected a few other comments that were violent in tone.)

It's going to be hard for the HSUS to avoid criticism as they move forward as a partner with Vick, especially since their history with pit bulls (Vick pit bulls especially) has not been clean. We can't blame people for being suspicious of their motives right now.

Have you read Brent Toellner's post on this topic? He outlines some recent history that makes the HSUS/Vick partnership worth watching.

Thank you for your donation to BR's projects, btw. You've got a generous heart and that's a refreshing quality in this cynical age.

valerie said...

Sick. Sick. Sick. This guy has gone so far down the path of violentization that there's no going back...I fear that his getting publicity as a spokesperson for HSUS would only make him worse. Anyone who says he should be forgiven or given yet another chance should be asked if they could picture themselves doing the things that Donna described.

Kirsten said...

This was bound to spark a lively discussion, and it has.

In regard to Dianne's comments, there's no quesion the anti-dogfighting program run by the Chicago Canine Academy is excellent. It was highlighted in BR's blog last year: and we all heaped praise on it.

The question posed here was not whether the HSUS or other large org's can do any good at all, it was whether Michael Vick can do any good. He had nothing to do with the Canine Academy program. As far as charisma, he makes me want to hurl, sorry. Young people aren't stupid, and they can spot inconsistencies in people's behavior. I still think having him as a spokesperson sends a garbled message at best.

Sarah said...

I'll admit I'm skeptical of Vick's partnership with HSUS. In his blog Brent mentions that Vick could potentially reach at-risk youth and teach them compassion. But how does a man teach children something he knows so little of? Did he learn the real meaning of compassion in the short time he was in prison? Has he truly developed the empathy he was completely devoid of those years he engaged in the horrific abuse of his dogs? I'm not sure I believe those are things a person can internalize in so brief a time after years of living completely anesthetized to the pain of others.

I don't know this man, but my gut tells me that while he may be able to connect with inner city youth on some level, he lacks the qualities critical to being a effective educator. Good educators naturally seek to nurture and encourage growth. As is stands now, all evidence suggests that Vick knows only how to destroy.

Anonymous said...

Donna, do we have your permission to include your description of the horrors the dogs endured in response to HSUS people's commentary regarding partnering with Vick?

Thanks - Lynn from N. Cal

Donna said...

Sure thing, Lynn. Anything we publish is fair game.

I believe they (HSUS) are already aware of some of these details and may even mention them briefly when they talk about why we need to end dog fighting.

It strikes me as odd though that we're still calling this a dog fighting case when clearly it went way, waaaay, behind dog fighting and moved into the most sadistic torture imaginable. I've said this in the past and say it again, Vick makes 'traditional' dog fighters look like pansies.

One voice counts said...

Thank you for always bringing it home. To the dogs. So we can remember, honor, and never ever forget them. To what happened to them - and what would happen again were there no consequences. I do not believe there is nor ever will be remorse from Michael Vick. Just concern. Concern for the consequences of his behavior. Concern for repairing his image - Team Vick already working hard on that one - and getting back to NFL. The consequences of his behavior will be forgotten, eventually. But the consequences of the acts you witnessed visible on the sides of that swimming pool are a stain and a keening and a renting of the heart that will never be forgotten. And there lies the heart of it all.

Anonymous said...

Don't you find it interesting that the same organization that wanted all of the dogs put down because they could never live "normal lives" now wants to jump on the Vick money, I mean band wagon?

And PETA wants a mental evaluation? They better be the first in line for that one....

So sorry that you had to witness what you did, and even sorrier that any dog, pit or otherwise had to go through it. You guys are awesome!


leigha said...

donna your story of that pool where so much cruelty took place, breaks my heart and made me break down in tears. and as horrible of a story as it is, i think more people need to read it. people like roger gooddell, people who keep wanting us to feel sorry for vick, people who think he deserves his job back, people who think he deserves a second chance with the nfl. that little black dog didn't get a second chance.

vick is only sorry he got caught. he denied involvement from the beginning hoping to weasel his way out of facing responsibility for his actions. i agree with tim that is is not right that vick didn't even face the cruelty charges from the state. those were somehow dismissed, vick didn't pay his dues. and no way should he ever get his job back. let him go do whatever he thinks he should do with the hsus. but in no way does that make me believe he is sorry. he never once apologized to the dogs. even if he had though, it doesn't change what he did over and over for many years to countless innocent dogs.

2 Brits, 2 Yanks, 2 Dogs said...

Donna - I literally had to put my hand over my mouth, as my stomach churned at the thought of the swimming pool. I want to ask so many questions of this dog murderer. How could you do this and why do you do this? I just can't fathom it. I do not believe in any shape or form that he is remorseful. To plead not guilty at his trial, proves to me that he firstly does not believe he did anything wrong and he truly did not care at all. Like many of the others, I agree he is just ashamed he got caught.

As for the HSUS society using him as a spokesperson - what a joke! This is just a marketing ploy and I truly hope that the NFL turns their back on him.

I feel so nauseous.

2 Brits, 2 Yanks, 2 Dogs said...

Donna - I hope you don't mind I quoted you on this post on my blog.
I am disappointed yet again with the HSUS.

Anonymous said...

I can't say anything that hasn't already been posted here, except that I sent an email to Roger Goodell expressing my disgust and anger that there's any consideration at all being given to reinstating Vick, and I signed the "Ban Michael Vick from the NFL-Permanently" petition. HSUS? WTF are they thinking?

Cornelia & Jim
PB's Misty & Buddy
Lodi, CA

leigha said...

If he were truly sincere in speaking out about the wrongs of dog dogfighting he wouldn't need the hsus to do so. He would get in a van or bus and use any funds he has to travel to urban areas and hold events for the people to come out and hear him speak about the cruelty of dogfighting. He is only using the hsus. Whether or not the hsus is using him, i don't know.

I do know that this would be like a man who committed rape or child abuse over and over all of sudden becoming a spokesperson to speak out against those crimes. it just doesn't sit well with me. If you are a person who truly feels you have done something wrong and want to speak out against it, ESPECIALLY if you are a person as well known as vick, you don't need to unite yourself with an organization to do so.

Anonymous said...

Donna, what you described was new to me and I'm sorry for the pain it causes you. I have struggled with this whole process of Vick's return to football. I keep asking myself, if he was a no name would I be as adament that he not return to his chosen profession. I've come to the conclusion that he should be given a chance to play again, but never get endorsements to support a major lifestyle of luxury. Keeping him in football would give all of us a better chance of keeping an eye on him and to see if he has truly understood what he has done. I, personally, don't think so. But this is a first step in the long process of rehabilitation of the public's image of Pit Bulls. There are days when I am tired of explaining why I would have a Pit Bull especially a rescued one, but I know it is worth every word and effort on my part. As I tell people I meet, I'd have a dozen if the county I lived in would let me have that many dogs.
You are a blessing to all Pit Bulls. Just keep telling yourself that.

mashag said...

Donna - Your description is very moving and touching to me. It truly brings the message home about what he did to those dogs (and what he could have done to the wonderful dogs I met, had he likely had the chance). Yours is a moving and tragic assessment, because all of these deals and messages are not about him 'moving towards the pool'. I see all of this as a way for him to get his million dollar contracts back, and not about genuine apologies.

As much as I want him to have to do ads with apologies, I fear that in the end, that will equate him with being 'rehabilitated' and will end with him getting back to the NFL, which he will never deserve, in my humble opinion.


Pam said...

Donna, thank you for sharing the horrifying history of his pool. As sick as it makes me, knowing what humans are capable of doing to those less powerful than themselves is important to those who want to make the world a better place, whether for animals or for people. Willed ignorance gets us nowhere. I will never, ever forget the images you depict.

Anonymous said...

I went back and forth on whether or not to comment on this blog. I am confused as to whether the blog is about Vick being a spokesperson for HSUS or about Vick rejoining the NFL. They are completely different topics. I don't think Vick should be able to join the NFL but I feel differently than most of the bloggers when it comes to Vick being a spokesperson.

None of us, or anyone else, will ever know what is truly in Vick's heart. Certainly people have changed drastically before- from murderers to those who preach against violence. Almost always this is precipitated by some dark night of the soul caused by extensive incarceration or something else that makes them stop and take a look inside. Maybe Vick had one of these and maybe not. Clearly he has his own demons to deal with.

But whether or not Vick is truly remorseful does not affect whether or not he can reach kids through an anti dog fighting campaign. He doesn't have to be resourceful, he doesn't have to be a great educator, his sole role is to get the attention of kids who think its cool to fight their dogs. That is generally the same role every celebrity plays in every PSA or campaign they take on. They are not expected to be fully versed in(even fully dedicated to) their issues or to be excellent educators. Michael Vick has the potential to reach a lot of kids who won't be swayed by much of what HSUS, Bad Rap or any advocacy group has to say. That alone makes his participation important. Nothing can undo the terrible things he did but if the high profile of his case and he, himself, can be turned towards a greater purpose- ending dogfighting- this will be the best tribute we can pay his dogs who suffered so much.

Donna said...

Thanks for your thought anon. Outside of our general opinion on the latest news on Vick, the original questions posed to BR that started this thread were:

'Is there any indication that he is sincere and recognizes how bad his actions were? Has he actually done anything to show remorse for his cruelty to the dogs you took in?'

Whether a man without remorse can inspire a kid to feel empathy for a dog is a whole other question. In the most simple terms, I would say 'No' -- kids have 20/20 vision when it comes to detecting agendas and insincerity. A program has to be more than just a good photo opp. It has to have a SOUL.

leigha said...

" A program has to be more than just a good photo opp. It has to have a SOUL."

well said donna. that truly is the bottom line.

as for vick returning to the nfl, and people who think anyone should get their job back after committing such crimes, i just don't get it. would a policeman get his job back, would a teacher get their job back, would i get my job back, would you? i think not.

Anonymous said...

How shameful that this monster is getting out of prison. I don't believe he is sorry for what he has done, only sorry that he was caught. Why doesn't he put on the gloves and join the UFC? He is a coward and a pathetic "human being" What goes around comes around (I hope)

leigha said...

yeah we can only hope karma catches up with him. second chances are only for those who earn it, second chances are for someone who just screwed up, not someone who abused innocent creatures over and over. second chances are not for inhumane abusive monsters like vick.

Anonymous said...

I hate him. I hate his fans too.
God bless you good people taking care of dogs.

PLease add to the 30,000 signatures to ban Michael Vick

Susan Cava Ruimy said...

But Donna, in a way YOU pulled that dog out...and so many others out of the pool - please remember that.

As for's all just too soon. Way too soon.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely, positively NOT. No way in hell.

Michael Vick should not be living the life of fame and good fortune that arrives to most NFL players.

He is -- and should remain -- infamous.

He should toil for his survival like the rest of us have to. God forbid this cretin be perceived as a role model to any child.

There are some acts whose prerequisite is complete abdication of one's humanity, and the surrender of any right to merciful treatment that comes with one's human condition by default.

One of these acts is animal torture. It's on the same page of the same chapter along with child molestation, human torture, and genocide.

Mr. Vick has earned his special place in hell.

As for me, I used to be an Eagles fan. No more. You cannot sacrifice your morals for cash, nor some twisted concept of "victory" or "glory".

Anonymous said...

Enough already , I am so tired of Vick THis and Vick that ! lets face it his remorse is so fakeit is ridiculous!!!! AND HSUS ! THEy are nothing more than a Terriorist Opganisation Just no better than PET!!! !They do Not rescue and Protect, Like those of us WHo DO RESCUE !

Marie Mc Neill said...

Dear Donna

God bless you for your kind loving heart.

Your work and your actions are the expression of real love and real goodness. I admire you greatly.

As for Vick, true remorse is accompanied by a desire to do right from that moment on.

Is he doing right, doing good now not harm not just nothing?

if not he has not shown remorse and should be blocked from decieving others that he has.

To the others posting your comments, your pain and distress is very understandable but do not waste your energy on hate for this man. Do good, do good for the dogs and do good by exposing deceit, Vick's deceit if he is still feigning remorse.

And know that the animals love you so much for saving them, you are their saviours:)


Anonymous said...

Michael Vick is a coward! He hasn't shown any remorse for anything that he has done. The dogs that he murdered and tortured have no voice, but we as people do. I think that it's our duty to speak up for them. I can't believe how many people have just accepted him back into the public eye. It sickens me. If the law can't give the justice that he deserves, why can't we? It was way too easy for him to supposedly "do his time" and then step back into everyday life like he's some big f*#%ing hero! He should be shunned every time he steps out into public. Sadly, that will never happen. There will always be people out there that are just as cruel and heartless as he is and they will support him. All I know is I ever have the pleasure of meeting Michael Vick face to face, I will be sure to let him know exactly what kind of person he truly is. Too bad someone can't hook his big ass ears up to some jumper cables and throw his coward ass in the pool! That person would be doing time in prison for why isn't he?

StarrLady said...

Good luck to the wonderful, dedicated people that are going to protest Michael Vick receiving the Ed Block award on March 9th. PEACEFUL and POWERFUL! Even if you stand in silence you stand in numbers and are the voices of those poor dogs that were tortured and killed by Michael Vick. I'm standing next to you in spirit. God bless you all!

Anonymous said...

Vick deserves NO remorse or sympathy for the obscene cruel disgusting things he did. Changed man? That's a joke. He felt no guilt in the six years he was torturing these innocent animals, and does not now. The only reason he stopped this torture was because he got caught! There should have been not one thought about giving him a second chance. He is an awful, hateful, disgusting person. There is no kind of forgiveness for this human being. Why don't we attach cables to his ears and throw him in the swimming pool..then maybe he can feel some type of pain that the innocent animals went through from him. He makes me utterly sick to my stomach.

pool repair scottsdale said...

I wish them well.

Anonymous said...


First and foremost, thank you and the countless others who provided a voice for the innocent fur baby victims of the vile and disgusting Vick.

It troubles me that you carry such horrific imagery of what occurred at the pool on Vick's property. Someone with such compassion for the voiceless doesn't deserve such a heavy burden. It speaks volumes about you as a deeply compassionate person, that you have absorbed the pain of what these innocent creatures must have endured, although I do hope somehow this burden can be lifted from your shoulders and your mind.

I am not one that easily forgives although, being a person of faith and knowing God encourages us to forgive, I do try. I cannot say this about Vick though, God forgive me but, in my mind to forgive or even try to forgive that vile, disgusting excuse for a human being would be no different that worshiping the devil himself. Maybe he has paid his debt to society from a legal view (although I say that is crud) but he has not and in my opinion will never pay his just dues to each and every animal who suffered at his hand. Since individuals like him don't usually change for the better, I fear dogs may now be suffering the same fate at his hand and pray to God that I'm wrong.

God forgive me, but I pray that when Vick's time has come that he receives the very same compassion that he showed the dogs unfortunate enough to live and die in his world. May he suffer no less than 10 times the pain and slow death for each dog that suffered at his hand. Unless there are others we know of at least 51 so by my calculations he is deserving of no less than 510 times the suffering and slow death as his victims. May there be a pool filled with plenty of water with Vick's name on it as well as many batteries at the ready also with Vick's name on them. I know perfect location on his body to attach the electrical cables and it is NOT on his ears.

Thank you again Donna and may you find peace from the burdens you carry.