Tuesday, July 28, 2009

How Vick Can Show "Genuine Remorse"

I am a football fan. And I am a pit bull fan. And I am from Atlanta. So the Michael Vick "case" is personal to me.

Michael Vick admittedly and undeniably bankrolled, organized and participated in the abuse, torture and killing of countless dogs, many of whom are now rehabilitated and have left behind the years they spent under Vick's cruel thumb.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has conditionally reinstated Michael Vick to the league
. While I disagree with this decision, and had hoped that he would be banned for life from the NFL, the truth is that Vick brings a lot of publicity, and publicity makes money. He will play again in the NFL, despite our outrage and disappointment at the decision. The NFL rarely bans anyone for life, including those convicted of domestic violence, drunk driving, and battery. Vick won't be banned for hurting "just dogs," acts that he simply describes as "mistakes." (Read Peggy Drexler's thoughts on Vick's possible return to the NFL, too.)

So, how do we, as a community of animal welfare activists and pet lovers, respond? Part of Goodell's conditions insist that Vick must show "genuine remorse" for his actions. How exactly should he do that? Let's help Goodell with suggestions. The Animal Law Coalition has developed an extensive list of actions that Vick can take to attempt to show remorse. If you are angered and disappointed by Goodell's decision, turn that anger into action.

If the team in your city shows even the slightest interest in signing Michael Vick, let the team owners and managers know your opinion. The owners of the New York Giants, New York Jets and Dallas Cowboys have already said they have no interest in Vick. Send them a note of appreciation for their decisions.

Do something locally. Does your city have even one dogfighter? In Atlanta, we have more than our fair share of breeding and training for dog fights, and our city and surrounding areas boast a highly hospitable environment for fights. The HSUS offers a $5000 reward for tips that result in prosecution of dog fighters. Make the call.

Turn in people who are breeding and selling "game stock" pit bulls. In Georgia, it is illegal to breed and sell dogs without a license from the state Department of Agriculture. A quick perusal of Craig's List on any given day will give you contact information for several pit bull breeders (among others). Report them as unlicensed breeders to the Georgia Department of Agriculture.

Don't assume that someone else will take action, so you don't need to. They won't. So, if you don't do it, probably no one will. Take 5 minutes each day to do something to make a difference. They depend on us for that. They depend on you.

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