The 53 dogs seized during the dogfighting raid on Michael Vick’s home may get a second chance at life thanks to a consortium of animal welfare groups, including the American Dog Owners Association and Best Friends Animal Society.
The group formed to advocate on the dogs’ behalf, filing a brief in federal court that asks that no dog seized during the raid on Vick’s Virginia home be euthanized without expressed permission of the court, that the dogs be evaluated by an independent expert to identify the adoptable ones, and that the evaluator be dog trainer Jim Crosby.
Crosby, a canine aggression expert and retired police lieutenant, has rehabilitated dogs used in dogfighting and lives with a Pit Bull rescued during Hurricane Katrina whom he describes as a “marshmallow.”
The American Dog Owners Association and Best Friends Animal Society have both come out strongly against dogfighting since Vick’s guilty plea on conspiracy charges related to dogfighting. Best Friends Animal Society, which operates the nation’s largest no-kill animal shelter, has called upon professional sports leagues to take a strong stand against the practice.
Julie Castle, director of community programs and services for Best Friends Animal Society, says that the Atlanta Falcons quarterback’s guilty plea, as well as the 2005 convictions of two former pro athletes on charges related to dogfighting, reveal a dogfighting subculture in the world of professional sports and entertainment.
“Because professional athletes and entertainment personalities are held in such high esteem by young people, we hope that the NFL and other sports leagues will encourage their athletes to speak out against dogfighting,” Castle says. “By doing so, they will let the youth of America know that the sports heroes they love want animals to live in peace without being immersed in a ruthless activity that pits one animal against another.”
In 2005, former basketball player Qyntel Woods was linked to dogfighting and eventually convicted on animal abuse charges. That same year former NFL running back LeShon Johnson received a deferred sentence of five years following the raid of a dogfighting operation.