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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Michael Vick in trouble for illegal dogfighting

Too bad. He was a great runningback -- er, quarterback who just likes to run a lot and throw very little.

I don't know what kind of trouble he will be in for this, but I'm sure the Falcons won't be happy if he is convicted:

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on charges related to illegal dogfighting.

Vick and three others are charged with competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting and conducting the enterprise across state lines.

The dogfighting operation was named "Bad Newz Kennels," according to the indictment, and the dogs were housed, trained and fought at a Surry County, Va., property owned by Vick.

The indictment alleges that the 27-year-old Vick and his co-defendants began a grisly dogfighting operation in early 2001 in which dogs fought to the death — or close. Losing dogs were sometimes killed by electrocution, drowning, hanging or gunshots.

If convicted, Vick and the others — Purnell A. Peace, Quanis L. Phillips and Tony Taylor — could face up to six years in prison, $350,000 in fines and restitution.

Authorities seized 66 dogs, including 55 pit bulls, and equipment commonly used in dogfighting. About half the dogs were tethered to car axles with heavy chains that allowed the dogs to get close to each other, but not to have contact — an arrangement typical for fighting dogs, according to the search warrant affidavit.

Before fights, participating dogs of the same sex would be weighed and bathed, according to the filings. Opposing dogs would be washed to remove any poison or narcotic placed on the dog's coat that could affect the other dog's performance.

Sometimes, dogs weren't fed to "make it more hungry for the other dog," it said.

Of course, PETA had to jump in with a statement:

PETA’s offices, located just over an hour away from Michael Vick’s rural mansion—where we now know dozens if not hundreds of dogs were forced to fight to the death in the pit—has been receiving vague allegations of Vick’s involvement in illegal animal fighting activity for years, sadly without much concrete evidence to back it up. While local authorities—who have historically mishandled dogfighting cases—sat on evidence in this case, the U.S. Attorney’s office was obviously determined to get the job done. The professional sports world is plagued with players who have been accused, charged, or convicted of cruelty to animals, abusing pit bulls, and dog fighting, and we hope that this indictment sends a loud and clear message to players and the NFL that celebrity is not a sufficient excuse for breaking the law, and that animal abuse should never be tolerated under any circumstances.
-PETA Director Daphna Nachminovitch

TMZ has more:

Vick was charged with illegal competitive dogfighting, which involves training pit bulls to fight against other dogs. When authorities searched Vick's property this month, they found 54 pit bulls and a host of brutal items including a "rape stand," used to hold dogs in place for mating; an electric treadmill modified for dogs and a bloodied piece of carpeting.

So far, Vick has only been indicted, not convicted. So, who knows whether he is guilty or not.

However, whoever is guilty of this -- whether it is Vick or a family member of his exploiting his generosity, as he claims -- this is a sickening crime, and I hope whoever is found to be the culprit is prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. If Vick is found guilty, he should be given no leniency whatsoever.

Can't run your way out of this one, Vick.