More Information on the Michael Vick Dog Fighting Case

 |  May 21st 2007  |   17 Contributions


Michael Vick2.jpg

More and more evidence that Michael Vick is actively involved in dog fighting.

When are we going to see athletes step up and tell their fans that dog fighting is evil?

Please be aware that there is some upsetting information in this story.

Thanks to the New York Daily News for this article.

Bad to the bone
Michael Vick's rep getting sacked over dogfighting rap

BY OHM YOUNGMISUK
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER

Sunday, May 20th 2007, 9:16 AM

But what authorities discovered during a drug raid on Vick's 15-acre property in rural Virginia sounds like something out of a gory horror flick.


There were blood splatters on the floor of one room and a blood-stained rolled-up carpet in the corner of another. Veterinarian drugs and, according to one account, syringes were found in the house. More than 50 dogs were also found, some of them heavily scarred with gashes on their bodies - one had a severely injured leg that was bent at a grotesque angle. Many of the dogs were tied to heavy chains linked to car axles buried in the ground. Weight scales, five treadmills designed for dogs, and other equipment commonly used to prepare and train dogs for fighting were discovered on the premises.

Police were initially planning to bust Vick's cousin Davon Boddie, who was living at the house - Vick did not reside there - for drugs. Boddie had given the Surry County address as his home when he was arrested April 20 in Hampton, Va., on suspicion of marijuana possession with the intent to distribute. Police got a search warrant and went through the house looking for drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Instead, they stumbled upon what appeared to be an underground dogfighting ring that could leave the NFL's highest-paid player facing suspension and possible prosecution.

"We heard there was a video existing with him sitting next to the pit," says John Goodwin, deputy manager of animal fighting issues for the Humane Society of the United States. "I don't know if the video has been destroyed or does exist. I don't think you need that kind of evidence. There have been dogfighting cases that have led to convictions with less evidence. You got scarred-up dogs, a carpet with blood on it that dogs fought on, veterinarian drugs and syringes used for pre- and post-fight treatment and equipment they used to prepare dogs for fights.

"There's a store owner, despite Vick's denial that he is involved, saying (Vick) has been there buying veterinarian drugs. All the pieces are there."

The Atlanta Falcons' franchise quarterback, known for his scrambling ability, is having trouble eluding his latest off-the-field controversy, which seems to grow almost daily. Tomorrow, Surry County investigators will review dogfighting evidence that was seized after the drug raid.

Vick has reportedly sold the home in the past couple of weeks.

On Friday, Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) joined two prominent animal rights groups in putting pressure on NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to "act swiftly and forcefully" if Vick was involved in dogfighting. Lantos hinted that the government may get involved if the NFL doesn't act appropriately.

"I am outraged that one of the National Football League's superstars is affiliated with such a heinous enterprise," Lantos wrote in a letter to Goodell. "The level of cruelty involved in exploiting animals to the point that 60 malnourished and injured dogs were removed from Mr. Vick's property is mind-boggling. I will view anything less than the strongest repudiation of Mr. Vick's involvement as tacit support for this atrocious activity."

Surry County Commonwealth Attorney Gerald Poindexter, the prosecutor in the investigation, told The Associated Press that he doubted the evidence will be reviewed in time to submit to a grand jury, which is scheduled to meet Tuesday. No charges have yet been filed.

Poindexter, who did not return phone calls, said last week that he is convinced that dogfighting took place on the Vick property and that as many as six to 10 people could be involved. Poindexter has repeatedly cautioned, however, against a rush to judgment on Vick, saying that the Virginia product is a registered dog breeder and that some of the dogs at the residence appeared to be well-cared for.

"I'm not going to be a party to a witch hunt," Poindexter told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "This will not be driven by people who hate Michael Vick, love Michael Vick or people who love animals."

Dogfighting, which has a burgeoning subculture across the country, is a felony punishable up to five years in prison and a $2,500 fine. At the moment, Vick is reportedly being viewed as just a property owner. According to Goodwin, however, confidential informants have provided prior information of Vick being involved in organized dog fights, which are illegal in all 50 states.

"We've been getting phone calls periodically over the last couple of years responding to a reward program (that) word in the dogfighting circles was that Michael Vick was involved in this," Goodwin says. "In this case, it should be cut and dry. If that attorney doesn't bring charges on this, I am going to be suspicious."

If Vick was involved and is charged, the quarterback will be punished by Goodell, who suspended Adam (Pacman) Jones last month for the Titan defensive back's repeated run-ins with the law.

The league is monitoring the Vick issue closely, and a source says Goodell will not show favoritism toward a superstar player or rule differently because the punishment could cripple a team.

"(If) he does back down, he will lose all credibility with us," one league general manager says of Goodell. "This is when you show you are for real. Don't hide behind some gloss here, that it's Michael Vick so we have to find a way to insulate ourselves. This would be a great guy to make an example of. He would love to show that, I am for real,' because he is."

The commissioner made that clear to Vick when he met with the Falcons star for 20 minutes at the NFL draft last month.

"I was very clear with Michael," Goodell said in a recent broadcast interview. "People living in your house and people on your property is your responsibility. That is not an excuse from my standpoint. He needed to make sure he surrounded himself with people who were going to treat him properly and represent him the way he wanted to be."

* * *

For as many football highlights as he has produced, Vick is quickly collecting almost as many off-the-field mishaps.

Vick was named in a lawsuit that alleged he knowingly infected a woman with a sexually transmitted disease and used the alias "Ron Mexico" while receiving treatment. He settled out of court.

Last season, Vick was fined $20,000 for making an obscene gesture at fans following a home loss to the Saints. In January, he was investigated for carrying a water bottle with a hidden compartment that security at Miami International Airport said smelled of marijuana. Vick was cleared of any wrongdoing.

Then, in late April, the quarterback made more negative headlines when he missed a congressional breakfast that was held in his honor in Washington. Vick also had a trespassing charge dismissed after he was caught fishing in a private lake in Virginia.

"That is who Michael Vick is," the general manager says. "He's got that posse that is like that. He thinks he's oblivious to this because of who he is, because of the wealth he's amassed. That money went to his head and created real problems. I don't know how else to say it: He is an embarrassment and a little bit of a nightmare. What can't you do? You can't trust him."

"They've got a real mess," the GM adds of the Falcons. "You've seen everybody circling the wagons. He's standing naked. He's got a lot to lose. Now he's looking at his career."

Atlanta signed Vick in 2004 to the league's most lucrative deal, a 10-year, $130 million package that included $37 million in guaranteed bonuses. The deal expires in 2013.

In a show of support from new head coach Bobby Petrino, the Falcons traded highly regarded backup quarterback Matt Schaub to the Texans before the draft. Atlanta most likely would not have traded Schaub, who was going to become a free agent next season, had it known about Vick's current troubles.

"(Dogfighting) never came up with all our (pre-draft) investigations," says Dan Reeves, Vick's former Falcons coach who still talks to the quarterback. "He sure didn't have the money to do it. All indications we had was he was a great kid. You always worry about guys who have a mom but haven't had a dad around for a long time. I know he's a good guy, but he has certainly made an awful lot of mistakes."

Atlanta owner Arthur Blank, who once pushed an injured Vick in a wheelchair on the sidelines of a game in 2003, recently admonished the quarterback during a private meeting, insisting that his star has to become more accountable. Vick has repeatedly vowed to do just that, but his comments about the dogfighting investigation involving his former Virginia property seem to leave some doubt.

"It is a property that I am never there," Vick said at a press conference in Atlanta last month when he talked about donating money to the families of the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings. "I left the house to my family members and my cousin and they just haven't been doing the right thing. It is unfortunate that I have to take the heat behind it. But if I am not there, I don't know what is going on."

"It is a wake-up call for me to really tighten down on who I am trying to take care of," Vick stressed. "Because when it all boils down, people try to take advantage of you and leave you out to dry. Lesson learned for me and just hope that things work out."

* * *

In a video on YouTube designed to stop animal fighting, one snarling dog has its jaw locked like a vice onto the neck of another dog. The dog being bitten is soaked in blood, with its chest punctured by numerous gashes. Its body barely moves except for periodic gasps for air. Meanwhile, a couple of men in the video standing around the two dogs scream, "Get'em! Get'em!" as the winning dog goes for the kill.

Dogfighting is a multimillion-dollar underground industry that is spreading in urban areas such as New York, Los Angeles and Detroit, according to the Humane Society. Dogfighting, which Goodwin says has become glorified in the hip-hop community through rap videos and DVDs - largely takes place at secret locations, many of them garages or basements that require secret codes to get into. Dogfights can last hours, sometimes until one dies.

One dogfight last year in Houston paid $100,000 to the winning owner, according to Goodwin. The Humane Society estimates that there are as many as 40,000 dogfighters around the country. Most can make big money from breeding dogs, many of them pit bulls. Vick owns a company (MV7, LLC) that had a Web site (VicksK9Kennels.com) which advocated the breeding of pit bulls and other dogs, but stated that it did "not promote, support or raise dogs for fighting and will not knowingly sell, give or trade any dog that may be used for fighting," according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The Web site no longer is in service.

"Let me be very, very clear," Kathy Strouse, the Animal Control Coordinator for the City of Chesapeake who was on the Vick property when it was searched, told the Journal-Constitution. "There's no doubt in my mind that this was a dogfighting operation based not only on what we found at the property, but from intelligence, documentation and other evidence we've gathered."

Former Knicks forward Qyntel Woods, ex-Cowboys star guard Nate Newton and former Giants running back LeShon Johnson are among athletes who have been charged with dogfighting or animal cruelty. Typically, authorities discover narcotics or illegal firearms at dogfights, making many of the events a part of a criminal subculture.

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