This weekend, the New York Jets signed quarterback Michael Vick to a one-year contract worth a reported $5 million. Vick, according to the New York Daily News columnist Gary Myers, arrives in New York “with some forgettable baggage from his former days as a dogfighter.”
…Forgettable baggage, huh? Sounds like now might be a good time to remind Myers, and Jets fans with only a distant memory of the case, of the crimes for which Michael Vick served 21 months in prison.
In addition to plunking down $34,000 to buy the Smithfield, Virginia, property where dozens of dogs were chained to car axles buried in the ground while they fought, sometimes to the death, in front of betting spectators, Vick and his co-defendants admitted to killing at least six (but perhaps as many as eight) dogs who did not display sufficiently aggressive traits during the “testing” process.
Several of those dogs were shot; at least two were were hosed down, then electrocuted. Three dogs were hanged, according to a report by the USDA inspector general, “by placing a nylon cord over a 2 x 4 that was nailed to two trees;” three more dogs were drowned “by putting the dogs’ heads in a 5 gallon bucket of water.”
Vick, with his partner, Quanis Phillips, killed yet another dog “by slamming it to the ground several times before it died, breaking the dog’s back or neck.” When another of his dogs was disqualified after jumping out of the ring during a fight, Vick had his associate, Purnell Peace, shoot that dog in the head with a .22 caliber pistol.
When federal officers raided Vick’s property in 2007, they rescued 53 pit bulls. They also found nine pit bull carcasses, took samples of two skeletal remains, collected spent shell casings, syringes, and “pieces of plywood flooring and dry wall covered with dark stains believed to be canine blood.” (Tests later confirmed, yes, the stains were dog blood.)
Other evidence seized from the property included a “rape stand” — a device to which a female dog was strapped, her head fully restrained, so she could be raped by other dogs without ripping their throats out. (You can read the federal indictment and the follow-up from the USDA on the next page.)
…”Forgettable baggage”? Vick, who now works with the Humane Society (a partnership proposed by a Vick handler before he was even done serving his prison sentence) would probably like Jets fans to think of his dogfighting conviction in those terms.
But it’s probably less forgettable for the dogs who were rescued from from Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels, the folks who did the rescuing, and the families who adopted the dogs that could be adopted after all that happened to them.
Read the federal indictment and the USDA inspector general’s report on Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 25, 2014