Throwing Michael Vick a bone

By Paul Cruse III

Michael Vick is famous for being one of the most exciting players to watch in the National Football League. Vick began attracting NFL scouts while playing for his high school team in Newport News, Va. He played quarterback for two seasons at Virginia Tech and took his team to the 2000 Sugar Bowl. Even though Virginia Tech lost, Vick showcased his amazing athleticism, which made him the No. 1 overall pick of the Atlanta Falcons in the 2001 NFL Draft. With his amazing foot speed, strong arm and dazzling playmaking ability, Vick became the poster boy of the Atlanta Falcons, a three time Pro Bowler and a favorite among Madden players.

Recently, the Falcon has admitted to and been convicted of sponsoring dogfighting competitions. With his arrest and admittance to participating in this crime, Vick has become infamous for being a savage, cruel animal abuser and might be sentenced up to five years in a federal prison.

I believe that dogfighting is cruel and should remain illegal. In addition, people should be punished for breaking the law and all people should serve the same sentence regardless of how many touchdowns they have scored or how much money they make. But I ask, in a steak-eating, animal hunting society, how can we punish any man so harshly for killing an animal? How is forcing a dog to fight to the death different than slaughtering millions of cows and chickens every year?

According to the Humane Society of the United States, dogfighting is “a sadistic ‘contest’ in which two dogs – specifically bred, conditioned and trained to fight – are placed in a pit to fight each other for the spectators’ entertainment and gambling.” Most dogs who participate in these contests usually die to blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion or infection hours or even days after the fight. Some people think breeding and training dogs to kill each other is sadistic. But these same people have no reservations about breeding and genetically altering cows or chickens to be hung by their feet and gutted or minced up alive. Protesters against Vick think that death in a slaughterhouse is more humane than death in fighting pit. But I ask anyone who has experienced either death to attest to this belief. No one can say which death is more painful or less humane because no one has ever come back to inform us on the subject.

Mike Vick has admitted to knowing about the dogfighting which took place in his Surry County, Va., complex. He claims that though the house was in his name, his cousins lived in it. The embattled quarterback says he was never in attendance for any of the fights and did not share in the winnings produced by the gambling. Even though he didn’t participate in the contests, on Aug. 27, in front of a room full of reporters, he admitted to the wrong he committed by allowing the dogfighting in a house that was under his name. In addition to admitting to this “crime,” he has also agreed to take a polygraph test and be an informant for Virginia law enforcement and aid it in apprehending future dogfighting participants.

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With all the things Mike Vick has agreed to and apologized for, there are still some people who want him to serve the maximum sentence of five years in a federal prison. For Michael Vick or any man to serve five years of his life in prison for killing dogs is absurd. At best, dogfighting should be a misdemeanor, in which a person should have to pay a fine and possibly serve some type of minimal parole.

Vick will most likely be sentenced to 12-18 months in a federal prison in which he will have to serve 85 percent of his sentenced time. Vick has not been convicted of rape or murder. He did not physically hurt a single person. Above all, Vick has complied with law enforcement and should serve the minimum sentence because of his cooperation. I agree that Vick is technically responsible for the deaths of those dogs, and should be punished in some way. But the punishment should be in accordance to the crime. Dogs are animals, the same as chicken or cows and people should not have to serve prison time for the death of livestock.