by T.S. Kerrigan
American Reporter Correspondent
Los Angeles, Calif.
September 6, 2006
MICHAEL'S VICK'S SENTENCE WON'T HALT DOG-FIGHTING RINGS IN OTHER CITIES
LOS ANGELES,Sept. 6, 2007 -- Along with the vast majority of Americans, I was relieved to see Michael Vick indicted by a federal grand jury after it became evident that he had trained, tortured and mutilated pit bulls. Americans like the appearance of swift justice, often content to leave further analysis of the problem addressed to legal scholars of the future, rather than look behind the effect of their action at the time.
I was supportive of the PETA pickets who assembled at the Atlanta Falcons practice facilities and elsewhere to demand that the National Football League take strong and decisive action against Vick, which it promptly did. The outrage of the American people, and their well-known regard for man's best friend, had been heard and been acknowledged.
Vick will soon begin serving a criminal sentence to pay for his unspeakable actions. The pickets have disbanded, we can all exhale, give ourselves a pat on the back, and be thankful that an egregious practice has been finally stamped out. Or has it?
The PETA website claims it has an informant who is aware of widespread abuse of the dog-fighting laws among professional football players and has called on the National Football League to take further action against numerous players who have yet to be identified but are supposedly heavily involved in dog-fighting rings. How the league will respond to such anonymous information remains to be seen.
On Aug. 29, 2007, within a few days of these recent revelations, the Sports Section of the Los Angeles Times reported that Todd McNair, the backfield coach for the No. 1-ranked Trojans of the University of Southern California had been convicted on at least two occasions in the 1990's Of cruelty to dogs on property he owned in East Greenwich, N.J., while a professional football player. The dogs consisted of 22 pit bulls constrained by heavy automobile tow chains, presumably for the purpose of strengthening their necks for fighting.
The animals were scarred and marked on their facs and bore wounds on their bodies as though they had actually been used for fighting. Was it merely coincidence that McNair's situation so closely resembled that of Michael Vick? Despite this damning evidence, McNair denied he had ever raised dogs for fighting.
Pete Carroll, the U.S.C. football coach, who invited the infamous O.J. Simpson to come on campus and address the team a few seasons ago, stated, according to the Times, that he had not known about the convictions prior to hiring McNair, but would have hired him anyway, because he wouldn't have recognized this conduct as an issue. The University seems to have accepted McNair's implausible account of these incidents and has announced no intention of further investigation into the matter.
For the present, Carroll has apparently been successful in his "just win, baby," philosophy. PETA has refused to become further involved, presumably having expended its energy in the Vick case. With the laying down of the picket signs and the resulting silence in the press, one would think that Vick's guilty plea put an end to an egregious situation, and that we can all go on with our lives without any worries about such conduct in the future. But even a superficial examination of the situation makes it clear it has not.
Anyone with such a misconception should have a few conversations with representatives of the Humane Societies in places like Los Angeles, Chicago, Detroit and New York. Such conversations will dispel that notion immediately. There is an active dog-fighting industry in the major cities of America, probably gang-controlled, where unbelievable cruelties are regularly practiced on pit bulls, in much the same way as revealed in the Vick investigation. and law enforcement agencies in these cities seems unable to do anything about it.
Take Pasadena, Calif., for example, an older community a few miles outside of Los Angeles. One can visit the Humane Society facility on most days and see badly scarred and maimed pit bulls, their ears cut back. It is well known that on weekend nights in the recreation room of a city housing project, trained pit bulls are made to fight one another for the amusement of the local residents.
Betting regularly occurs at these controlled affairs. Because of the perceived danger of the place, Pasadena police officers will not go into the premises except in force. When the dogs used in these exhibitions are no longer good for fighting, they are either killed or abandoned in an area around the Rose Bowl. The Humane Society finds them there and takes them in. They are almost never put up for adoption for obvious reasons.
This is a recurrent cycle that has gone on virtually unchecked for years. Similar situations are known to Humane Society, SPCA, and law enforcement officials in New York, Detroit, Chicago and almost every other major city in America.
Though it is apparent that both state and federal laws are being violated on a regular basis, resources are evidently not in place to prevent these continuing violations. There is no reason to believe that the barbaric practices of the past will not continue into the future.
Michael Vick, for all his talent on the football field, and that talent was certainly considerable, deserves a prison sentence for the savagery he has inhumanly inflicted on pit bulls. But those who think that this horrible conduct will end with Vick out of the picture are deluding themselves. The horrors that surfaced in that case are too ingrained in our culture at this point to be as easily abandoned as the canine victims.
The national nightmare will undoubtedly go on until some person or group of persons in a position of power effectively ends it.
AR Correspondent Thomas Kerrigan is a poet, attorney and playwright based in Los Angeles.