Cheering for Vick

Dog fights have many victims, including Trooper, a female who was a suspected bait dog used in training sessions. The Washington Humane Society rescued her in 2009 after she was found in a trash bag inside a dumpster.
Photo courtesy of Washington Humane Society

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I just finished watching Michael Vick lead the Philadelphia Eagles to a come from behind victory over the Baltimore Ravens. The home crowd cheered for their quarterback as he passed and ran to bring his team to a one-point victory. As the commentators expounded on Vick’s abilities I once again considered about his criminal past.

Having read the near final galley version of Jim Gorant’s book “The Lost Dogs” when I worked in the animal welfare world I was struck by two things: Vick was incredibly bad at raising fighting dogs (many refused to fight and were killed) and he possessed a barbaric attitude towards dogs.

I was not surprised by the details Gorant compiled of how Vick and others treated his dogs, I had heard of worse cases. It wasn’t until I read the following excerpt that I knew Vick’s lack of empathy went deeper than his upbringing.

How Michael Vick Killed His Dogs

“And then there was one last body that stood out from the rest. It had signs of bruising on all four ankles and all along one side. Its skull was fractured in two places and it had four broken vertebrae. Brownie had said that all of the dogs that didn’t die from being hanged were drowned, except one.

“As that dog lay on the ground fighting for air, Quanis Phillips grabbed her front legs and Michael Vick grabbed her hind legs. They swung the dog over their head like a jump rope then slammed it to the ground. The first impact didn’t kill it. So Phillips and Vick slammed it again. The two men kept at, alternating back and forth pounding the creature against the ground, until at last, the little red dog was dead.”

It is important to go past the surface when you read this excerpt. Imagine the steps that it took to do what Vick did. Picture seeing a dog that is lying at your feet, battered and bruised. You forced it to fight and now it was wheezing for air.

We’ve all felt a dog’s ankles. Imagine grabbing your dog’s feet, lifting her from the ground. You feel the 35 or so pounds hang from your grasp. Maybe the dog kicks a little or more likely, without any energy, she hangs limp. Maybe she gives a questioning stare or a slight whimper escapes from her throat. Your partner has the other feet, only a few feet separating your hands from his.

What do you say? How do you let him know that you want to slam her to the ground? Imagine the mechanics of swinging a rather short animal up and down like a jump rope. Do you lose your grip? Is she jerked from your hands as your partner also pulls her up and down?

You and your partner my gain a little rhythm as you swing her body in a circle, slamming her to the ground. Does she struggle as she realizes you are not helping her to recover but are trying to kill her? Does she receive a shot of energy once she realizes her fate and put up a struggle? Are you forced to grab her tighter as her legs bicycle kick against your gut?

The first solid swing to the ground doesn’t kill her but you feel the thud vibrate from her body, down her legs, and up your forearms. So you do it again and again and again. At what point do you stop? Do you listen for a heart beat? Do you stop after three crushing blows to the ground to listen for breath? Is blood bubbling from her mouth? Does her flesh tear open as her skull is crushed? Is she knocked unconscious, making her head roll loose on her neck?

When her skull fractures does she yelp? Does she further struggle to kick free from your hands? Does she go limp when her vertebrae break?

What do you do afterwards? Do you get a bite to eat? Watch a little television? What is the next phone call you make? Who is the next person you shake hands with? How would you feel the next day?

Most of these things are unimaginable to us. Horrifically, they are part of Michael Vick’s memory. He can answer all of these questions with factual statements. He can also throw a ball.

Here’s a video regarding a survivor of dog fighting that was rescued by my friends at the Washington Humane Society back in 2009. It was suspected that she was a bait dog, used to help fighting dogs practice until they die or are too maimed to function. Trooper was thrown out like trash, wrapped in a garbage bag, and found in a dumpster. Give her a look before you watch an Eagles game and see who you cheer for.


63 thoughts on “Cheering for Vick

  1. Get over it. People act like they are so perfect and have never made mistakes in their own life but somehow feel the need to judge someone else. Vick did his time as appointed by the law. He’s fighting against animal cruelty now. It took something tragic for him to learn he was doing wrong and in the end he is correcting it.

    • Thank you for your comment but I would definitely not classify the killing of multiple animals on numerous occasions as a “mistake”. Vick operated a structured enterprise to illegally fight dogs and conspired to hide it from the law. The suggestion that Vick would have to “learn” that killing the dogs with his bare hands was wrong unfortunately shines a light on the character of the person making that suggestion.

      • It’s easy to say that as an outsider looking in. You say he was hiding it from the law. Well, the law found out and he did his time. People need to get over it. And if you want to cast judgement on me and in a way “criminalize” me because of my opinion then so be it. I didn’t ever say I condoned what Vick did. And there are far more horrendous crimes by humans against other humans and people don’t cry about it like they want to with Vick. Why don’t you blog about some of your life’s mistakes since your claiming to be a better person?

      • Clearly we have different opinions on this topic. My view is that these crimes show the lack of empathy that leads to an increase in the level of violence that a person will inflict on animals and humans. This blog entry is meant to create thought provoking dialogue, just like we are having. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and laying out your views.

    • I’m sure since you are defending the atrocities performed by Vick that you are a well informed person that has all of the facts. Do you know that Vick only did 19 months on a gambling charge. The animal cruelty charges were dropped as long as he plea bargained to the state charges of 1 count of dog fighting. Why did he get such light penalties from the state prosecutors… Because he was the hometown hero that could throw a football. He did not do any time for animal cruelty or dog fighting. The 3 year sentence was suspended with a 4 year probation. he was court ordered to pay restitution for his dogs and his PR firm that the Eagles got for him made him do the work with HSUS. NONE of that was on his own. ALL of the things he has done on his own have had nothing to do with the dogs or dog fighting. For someone to truly be remorseful about what they have done, that is the community you would strive to fix first. you would want to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you love dogs and would never ever hurt another one. He has not shown 1 ounce of true remorse so therefore WE WILL NOT GET OVER IT!!! he’s a sociopath that can throw a football. Too bad Charles Manson couldn’t play ball huh

    • 1. He never served any time for dog fighting or animal cruelty. He served for racketeering.
      2. He hasn’t learned anything. You can’t learn compassion. You can’t possibly do those cruel and barbaric things to a living being without having something terrible deep within you. If you can’t see through the act, I can only assume you find football more important.
      3. Mistake? The planned, systematic torture and killing of animals (or humans, for that matter) is not a mistake. I guess it was also a “mistake” when he knowingly gave another HUMAN herpes. Plenty of people make mistakes, probably not ones like these.
      4. It’s probably that if he was on any other team, you’d be on the other side of the fence with this. I was a Philly fan, my family consists of Philly fans, I know how they are.

    • Get over it?! You’re about as ignorant as Vick is! Vick did his time? Yeah, sure he did. The dogs he tortured, abused and KILLED will suffer permanantly for what he did. He does two years time and walks. “His” dogs, the ones that survived anyway, will suffer for the rest of their lives! WTF is wrong with people like you?! He is NOT fighting against animal cruelty now. The only thing he’s doing is going through the motions to make himself look better so he can get his kids another dog! Oh yeah, and let’s not forget the sale of his book. Gotta look good in front of the cameras for that! Ever hear the saying, Leopards don’t change their spots? Well, neither does this ANIMAL!!!!! And people like you glorifying him only add to the madness. He is a self-serving POS who wouldn’t know remorse if it slapped him in his ugly friggin’ face! His crocodile tears might fool you and those narrow-minded like you, but not me and not the ones who fight everyday for the rights and welfare of the innocent ones who have no voice. Now, go loosen that stupid bandana you’re wearing. It’s destroying the few brain cells you have left.

    • Oh boy. Deep breath. Oh dear delusional poster. “Mistakes”? Is that what you call abusing and killing over 60 dogs? Wow. So, I’m guessing you are just as forgiving to any other athlete who is praised to be forgiven for their “mistakes”? PA just loves the felons. Maybe it was a “mistake” with all that happened with Paterno at Penn State? He made a mistake and touched boys for over 20 years. Are you so quick to forgive him? How about Casey Anthony? I mean, she got off scott free because that’s what the “law” said was appropriate. Just because the law doesn’t put someone behind bars, does not make them innocent. Vick made mistakes since the age of 8. Do I blame him for what he did as a child? No, I do not. He was doing what he saw the garbage that raised him thought was okay to do. Which was take children to dog fights. If it were up to me, they would be rotting in jail for child abuse and endangerment. Let’s not confuse mistakes with premeditated behavior. Also, since Vick was signed to Philly, dog fighting has risen over 300%…so spare me how he is fighting against animal cruelty. The Eagles “donated” over $50,000 to HSUS so Vick and Wayne Pacelle could be best buddies. Vick has NEVER showed or even uttered words of remorse for what happened with the dogs. He has even said in an interview that the only thing he regrets in his whole life is that he didn’t get less of a jail time for when he got caught. He did not spend ONE SECOND in jail for animal abuse and killing the dogs. NOT ONE SECOND. So please do not say he “did his time, get over it.” As far as him “learning” from his “mistakes”, you really need to become more educated on psychopaths. For over 25 years, he never thought he was doing anything wrong and he thinks it’s “normal”. That’s why he calls what he did “mistakes”. He doesn’t consider it wrong. May he be hit by a convoy of rescued Pit Bulls one day.

    • vick did not make a mistake, he broke the law, committing multiple, felonious acts of animal cruelty. He has never served a day in prison for these crimes. Prison time was for monetary crimes connected to the dog fighting “business”. People don’t “get over” injustice. You are missing the point that vick has no ability to feel empathy or compassion for another living being. vick is a sociopath who uses people and animals for his own gain and pleasure. Could you honestly commit even one of his crimes and look yourself in the mirror, let alone parade around in public? He is not fighting against animal cruelty, he is doing what his publicist says he needs to do to clean up his image. You are not the only one who falls for the act so don’t be too hard on yourself, just open your eyes, mind and heart to the facts. Take 5 minutes to read what vick himself wrote about what he did to the dogs, before he was caught, or read the police report of what they found when they raided his house. Most know they are not perfect, everyone makes mistakes. People are outraged against injustice and against turning this cruel, dangerous psychopath into a Sunday afternoon hero. We are not judging. We are trying to raise awareness.

    • Vick didn’t actually do time for animal cruelty, he did time for ‘Conspiracy to Travel in Interstate Commerce in Aid of Unlawful Activities and to Sponsor a Dog in an Animal Fight Venture’ – basically gambling. I don’t think we can call the willful act of torturing and killing dogs a “mistake”.

    • Brutally murdering dogs isn’t just a little mistake. Michael Vick committed sick and violent acts that aren’t really in the same class as letting your parking meter run out, leaving the stove on, or even getting hooked on herion. Woops! He has a publicist and he does what his publicist tells him to do in order to maintain an image of a reformed person. That’s great. But if he was really working against animal cruelty he’d be helping the animals that suffer today from dogfighting. Has he been doing that? Public appearances in front of a banner aren’t helping anything but his image. I’m all for forgiving mistakes that people admit and try to make up for, but Michael Vick has never admitted to the public all the things he did to those dogs and if he’s fighing animal cruelty why are some of the survivors of his dog ring still out there recovering from his acts with no help from him? You seem to have a personal issue with this blogger anyway.

    • Yes.. people make mistakes, that is a fact of life. You gotta admit that this goes beyond a mistake, this was a
      true sociopath who has no regards for life. He did his time, yes, but not for his role in dog fighting and extreme animal cruelty and horrible torture, but for racketerring. I think you got the point about taking something tragic and learning from it, but in this case, getting caught makes one become real sorry. I think if he truely is sorry for this he will spend the rest of his life trapped in the sick mind of his memories of what he did to these innocent dogs……and that is what will be his life sentence and for Vick there is no getting OVER IT

  2. Anyone who’d treat another living animal the way he did (and to numerous animals, not just one!), shows his true character. Caring about other living animals isn’t something taught, it’s part of one’s character. I don’t need to tell my 3 year old we don’t torture animals, I know he already “gets that”. Who here, amongst us mere commentators, would “make a mistake” and treat a dog that way? We would never. It’s great he was caught and served time, if nothing else it stopped the murder of more innocent animals. But let’s not pretend Vick is just like you and me. He’s not. He’s proven that. All humans are not created equal – at least not morally. Or maybe we are, and something happened to him as a child that led him down this path. I don’t know, I’m not a psychologist. But I care about people and I care about animals. Vick is not the kind of person I will ever cheer for or stand behind.

      • No, thank YOU for this blog entry Brian. I didn’t realize just how disgusting, stomach-churning, and sick his (and his friends’) actions were. I knew about the dog-fighting. I knew about the electrocution and drowning. But I never read about this new level of torture. I think every now and then, as a society, we shouldn’t be afraid to point the finger at someone and say, “That’s unforgivable.” Doing time in prison doesn’t mean all is forgiven, or forgotten. I’m ok, to sit here, and judge him. That doesn’t mean I’m perfect. And yeah, to the other post’s point, people who hurt people, they don’t deserve to walk amongst us as equals either. We don’t talk about these things because I think it’s easier and less uncomfortable to look the other way, and try and forget as quickly as possible. But when we sit there on Sundays and cheer for Vick, what message does that send to others and to our children? IT’S NOT OKAY.

      • No she didn’t, she just following all the other dummies. Now let me make some TRUE POINTS. Dog fighting been going on for years. Now a black man does its now ALLLLL OF A SUDDEN white people want to end dog fighting? What about dog pounds killing pit bulls cuz its so many of them? What about how your food is killed? Oh that’s right, it’s not a dig so other animals don’t count. HYPOCRITE. AND FOR THE PERSON WRITING THIS JUNK. TRY WRITING KIDS BOOK YOU RACIST IDIOT.


      • Thank you for commenting David however I had been working to end dog fighting long before Vick made the headlines. One thing that I discovered in my years of fighting animal cruelty is that people from all races participate. In this case Vick, I believe due to his high profile role in sports and not his race, has become a figurehead of a larger problem.

      • Hi David,
        It would seem to me that you are the one making the issue about race, No where on any of the post does it talk about the race of Michael Vick, it would not matter to me if the individual was purple, i would still have a problem with tortuing dogs as a means of entertainment. If anyone involved in dog fighting, got into the ring and fought themselves they would have a different story. Why is it that everything has to be about race. It is individuals like yourself that keep the race issues alive and thriving. Just some advice think about changing your attitude then you might see the world from a different point of view. Peace, Lisa

  3. It makes me sick when I see him playing for the Eagles. I think they should show video clips of dog fighting on their huge screens and excerpts from the book on what he himself did to those dogs so the fans can see him in action and then decide if he is worthy of their adoration. Any other person exhibiting that level of violence would probably be locked up somewhere. How sad that he should be allowed back into the NFL to play along side the many great role models that kids should be looking up to. It’s a shame that with all his talent as a quarterback he could have been remembered for his greatness but instead will always be remembered for being an example of the worst of humanity.

    • Thank you Diane for pointing out that many of our youth view athletes as role models. Whether or not professional athletes view themselves in that capacity, they are looked up to and respected by impressionable minds.

  4. It’s difficult to read this, but even more difficult to comprehend how this could be considered ‘normal’ by anyone’s standards. It’s just evil. Plain evil.
    My heart hurts, but I thank you for the knowledge. You are a talented writer.

  5. Thank you Brian for writing a story that will truly get to the uninformed. You wrote very thought provoking statements about what is going through the mind of a sociopath while it is killing. I am proud to share this and hope it will change some views. We know there are those drinking the Vick kool-aid that will never admit we are right. That’s fine, these are the same people that say ” dude, they were just dogs”.

  6. I mourn for the vicious sadistic deaths of the numerous dogs under Vick’s “care”. I also worry about what goes on behind closed doors. He has a wife and children who may at risk.

  7. I can only hope that people will actually absorb this information. I’m from Philly and I’m disgusted by my friends who can still blindly support such a sociopath because he can play a game. My heart literally aches knowing that people have the capacity to do these kinds of things and that other people can look the other way for the good of a sport. I hope he gets what he deserves.

  8. Well said Brian. As a rescuer myself, and avid animal advocate, it is nice to see people that see through the glitter, and hype of a pro athelete, and see the true evil that lurks behind his football helmet. It is also nice to see someone so factual, and so open and honest about how they feel about that evil “person”. It bothers me to no end that he was allowed back into the NFL, and even though I was never an Eagles fan, I never gave them a second thought before. Now, however, I am an avid Eagles hater lol. My favorite NFL teams are Cowboys (yeah, I know, cant help it though), Cardinals, Dolphins, and anyone against the Eagles at that time. Whenever he gets sacked, I laugh, and wish to hear a bone snap in his neck. And anyone that says “He served his time, let it go.” are sorely wrong. He NEVER ONCE served a second for animal cruelty, abuse, neglect, nothing. He never served a second for dog fighting. He served for gambling. Period. Which not only says volumes about him, it speaks libraries about the “justice system”. And when asked last year by a reporter from NBC sports, if there were things he wished he could change in his past, his answer was “Less time in jail… or just never got caught.” Yeah, he has no remorse. Everything he is doing now “for the animals” at HSUS was court ordered. He was forced to. He hasnt changed, and I would not be surprised if he already has his hands in another ring of dogfighters somewhere else. It just hasnt caught up to him yet. But anyway, well said Brian, and thank you for putting it out there.

  9. Anyone who says this man did his time has NO compassion for animals. Let them do to you what vick did to theses animals. He should still be in jail and I’m sorry as a mother I DO NOT want my son idolizing this man.

    Brian I could not read the whole article but from what i read very well wrote. I have a pitbull myself and it broke my heart reading what he did to that poor little red dog

    • I frequently hear people discuss the amount of time that Vick served as not being long enough and I feel that goes to a deeper concern. The issue that animal welfare leaders struggle with every day is educating the legal system and those in political office to better understand the severity of inhumane behavior without dismissing it as “only a dog” or “only a cat”, etc.

  10. I just read the the excerpt from the book about how vick killed and treated those dogs. I must say I could never read the book without nightmares and crying continuously. I do understand that something is seriously wrong with vick to be able to do something like that, by this I mean the way he killed those poor animals and not feel or show any remorse or reaction to what he did. There are people that are evil, cruel or as my mom would say,” have a little something wrong with their souls”. As a child I would see boys hurting or being cruel to animal just because and those boys grew up to do some very sick and heartless crimes as men. They are socialpaths, real heartless men that do or did really bad things to people and animals( I am sorry if I did not spell them correctley) . He maybe able to throw a ball. but there is something deeper in him that is missing. Either from birth or from his childhood, the very heros that we celebrate usually are able to focus on one thing intentley because this is where they are able to exscape from some hurt or sickness they suffer from. I am soo glad that you enlightened me and others of these things/ crimes he did and has not paid for. I have never could celebrate his or rally for him because of his “reform”, because did it once and he will do it again.. He is a monster and not a hero, celeb, or any form of a role model!

  11. Hi Brian,
    Gut-wrenchingly well-written. What Vick did was horrifying and speaks to who he is as a person; there are some acts that cannot be attoned for or forgiven. I see no evidence whatsoever of Vick having any cognizance of the pain and suffering he inflicted or that he is taking responsibility for his behavior. There does not appear to be any rehabilitation of character or change in attitude. While judging him on a grand scale is not my job, I certainly can have a strong opinion about him, his actions, and what it would take for me to believe that he has changed in any appreciable way.

    My son plays football AND we are the owners and fosters of rescued pitties…my son loathes Vick. It is possible for children to choose their role models with care.

    At any rate–I appreciate your bringing the details to the forefront of our attention, because it’s so easy to get lost in the numbers and forget about the details of the suffering of a fellow sentient being.


  12. First of all, thank you Brian for the well written story. Though the topic is a difficult one to write or talk about. If a man sees evill and does nothing then that makes him just as evil. Somebody has to speak out for the animals since they have no voice. While I was reading the story I was thinking about my Cocker Spaniel (Colby) he is my child, and I can never imagine him enduring the torture those poor babies were subjected to. Not long ago I had to write a research paper for school, and I would like to include a portion of the paper if I may it may help to open more eyes this story was taken from an article I found, “His face is a mass of deep cuts, as are his shoulders and neck. Both of his front legs have been broken, but Billy Bear isn’t ready to quit. At the referee’s signal, his master releases him, and unable to support himself on his front legs, he slides on his chest across the blood and urine stained carpet, propelled by his good hind legs, toward the opponent who rushes to meet him. Driven by instinct, intensive training, and love for the owner who has brought him to this moment. Billy Bear drives himself painfully into the other dog’s charge… Less than 20 minutes later, rendered useless by the other dog, Billy Bear lies spent beside his master, his stomach constricted with pain. He turns his head back toward the ring, his eyes…searching for a last look at the other dog as (he) receives a bullet in his brain.” It’s a shame that nobody got to read this but my instructor, and a few others that I have given a copy of my paper to, a couple of them when they stated were fans of vicks I did not say one more word to them just handed them my paper to read.

      • Thank you Brian, Yes I would be willing to share the rest of my research paper with anyone that is willing to read it, just keep in mind that I am not a professional writer, and it is the first paper that I have ever written. Peace,

  13. Why would you even watch the Eagles? That supports the sponsors that further supports the idea that they should bring him back. If no one watched at all, the sponsors would pull out and they might have sesond thoughts.

  14. At the suggestion of not watching the Eagles, let me add that I no longer patronize Subway, as they sponsored an award given to Vick as “Sportsman of the Year.” Just in case anyone else is looking for ways to make their voice–and the voice for the pitties–heard.

    • Also consider giving up Nike and Penny’s. They sell/endorse his merchandise. I have. It gives me a little spark of power every time I lace up my Merrill’s and strut right by JCP to Macys. Not just “no justice, no peace”, for me it’s no justice no $$.

  15. well put!!! every time I hear Michael Vick’s name I get sick!! He is such a waste of sperm! I’m the owner of a beautiful pit bull named Whiskey, He’s the most loving kind awesome dog. Vick should be thrown out of football and in jail where he belongs!! And I will never get over what he did. Shame on you!!!!!

  16. You put my thoughts into words in this article. Well done, beautifully written! Everything you wrote in the section about how he killed the dogs are many of the thoughts that crossed my mind, only i hadn’t quite put them into context. I can’t seem to rant about this topic with anyone who is not a bleeding-heart animal advocate, which makes me very sad. I’m so tired of hearing, “he served his time” and on and on. No, he didn’t. He barely scratched the surface of paying for what he did, IMO.

    What are your thoughts on him now having a pet dog? It truly makes me sick.

  17. Pingback: CONFIRMED: Michael Vick’s New “Member of the Family” « BrianAdamsPR

  18. to S.Zak & sportsfreakchatter…I don’t think it’s a matter of “acting like we never did anything wrong.” There are lines that cannot be uncrossed…as far as ultimate judgement, that’s not for us. But I wouldn’t ever be able to consider a pedophile to be an appropriate father figure. You can’t unmurder someone. And for me, murdering dogs fits into that category of bells that cannot be unrung. Of course we all make mistakes but thankfully not many of us wreak the havoc, destruction and pain that Vick has achieved.

  19. Hindsight is usually 20/20.. But in Vick’s case, it’s about his public image and his money….. He didn’t learn anything.. If he was an ordinary person, he’d have found a way to start this up again.. Once a killer, always a killer.. That’s like saying a serial killer can be reformed and abolished of all his past montrous acts of violent killing, maiming, torturing etc.. Killing animals is the gateway to killing humans… Ask anyone who ever dealt with a serial killer… A person can’t wake up one day after years of killing and decide they have been reborn and we should all then pretend that what he did doesn’t make him a monster..

    Save the Pitbulls…. And ban him for life from ever owning a dog.. His plea now is that his children shouldn’t be deprived the experience.. TOO BAD. He’s no one to be teaching his children how to care for any animal.

  20. Pingback: The Graduation Myth: A Closer Look at Animal Cruelty and Human Violence « BrianAdamsPR

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