Animal fighting has been lugged to the head of the nation’s attention by

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the extremely publicized conviction that NFL star quarterback Michael Vick and 3 of his associates ~ above federal and also state charges regarded illegal dogfighting. Vick and also his associates activate the aptly named “Bad Newz Kennels,” i beg your pardon housed and also trained end 50 pit bull dogs, staged dog fights, eliminated dogs, and ran a high comb gambling ring v purses up to $26,000.

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The exposure of bad Newz Kennels aided alert the country to the viciousness the dogfighting that is commonplace in many areas despite the reality that dogfighting is outlawed in every state and, to part extent, by the commonwealth government. To check out about brand-new laws and also tougher penalties that have been spread in the wake of the Vick case, see the pet Legal Defense Fund’s animal Fighting Facts.

The Michael Vick situation illustrates many attributes common come the dozens of arranged dogfighting cases the pet Legal Defense money has watched over the years:

The clandestine operation went undetected until regulation enforcement uncovered it if investigating another crime.The dogfighting activity was violent and also bloody.Dogs to be methodically tested and also poor performers executed.Illegal gambling to be a major part that the operation.Shelters real estate the seized dogs had actually to perform high defense precautions.

This situation has numerous unusual aspects, too:

The commonwealth government brought charges (this is incredibly rare).One the the defendants had actually a very high windy profile.The dog were no euthanized once the case concluded.The court appointed a guardian/special master to handle last disposition that the dogs.
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2001 – 2007 The Dogfighting Operation

Michael Vick, climate 21, started his rookie year as a skilled football player the same year he and three associates – Purnell Peace, Quanis Phillips and Tony Taylor – started a dogfighting operation called “Bad Newz Kennels” at a building purchased through Vick in Surry County, Virginia. They bought dog in Virginia and other states and also brought them to the brand-new facility. Michael Vick became a registered dog breeder. The co-conspirators set up the home for a dogfighting venture. They developed a fence follow me the next of the property, so that their activities would no be visible. Lock buried automobile axles with hefty chains, a common method for securing fighting dogs because the pivoting axle prevents the chain indigenous tangling.

The guys tested the dogs in fights, then shot, electrocuted, or hung dogs who did not execute well.

“In or about April 2007, PEACE, PHILLIPS, and also VICK executed roughly 8 dogs that did not perform well in ‘testing’ sessions … by assorted methods, consisting of hanging, drowning, and slamming at the very least one dog’s human body to the ground.” (Federal indictment PDF)

A report through a U.S. Room of farming (USDA) investigator detailed more details on the April 2007 killings, saying the the males hung around three dogs “by place a nylon cord end a 2 X 4 the was nailed to 2 trees situated next to the large shed. They additionally drowned around three dog by putting the dogs’ heads in a five gallon bucket of water.” They eliminated one dog by “slamming it to the ground numerous times prior to it died, breaking the dog’s earlier or neck.”

According come a witness, the men battled their trained pit bulls with pet dogs, and they “thought it to be funny to watch the pit bull dog belonging to negative Newz Kennels injure or death the various other dogs.”

They hosted fights at the Virginia property and transported dogs to other states to get involved in fights. The fights usually developed late at night or in the early morning and would last several hours. Before fights, dogs would be bathed come remove any type of poison or narcotic that can have been put on them come hinder your opponents’ performance. Losing dogs sometimes died in the pit. Gambling purses were commonly in the thousands of dollars.

Dogs who shed fights were occasionally executed:

“In or about March that 2003, PEACE, ~ consulting with VICK around the shedding female pit bull’s condition, enforcement the shedding dog by wetting the dog down through water and also electrocuting the animal.” (Federal indictment PDF)

In 2004, Vick had actually a 10-year, $130 million contract v the NFL. Through 2006, he to be the NFL’s highest-paid player.


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April 25, 2007 The State Investigation

When Davon Boddie, Vick’s cousin, was arrested on drug charges, he provided Vick’s building as his address. Surry ar authorities looking the property found probable reason to achieve a 2nd search warrant for animal cruelty/dogfighting. Police discovered:

approximately 54 dogs, mostly pitbulls, some v scars and injuries; many were underfedabout fifty percent of the dogs to be chained to automobile axles and also just the end of with of every other, a typical plan for fighting dogsa blood-stained fighting areaanimal training and breeding equipment, including a “rape stand”, a maker in i m sorry a mrs dog who is too aggressive to send to males for reproduction is strapped down v her head in a restrainta “break” or “parting” stick, supplied to pry open fighting dogs’ mouths during fightstreadmills and also “slat mills” provided to problem fighting dogsassorted paperwork documenting joining in animal fighting venturesperformance-enhancing drugs frequently used to boost the fighting potential in dogs, as well as to save injured dog fighting longer.

Vick originally placed blame for the dogfight enterprise on family members that lived at the property, and he declared that he never ever visited the property.

May 22, 2007 Defenders that Dogfighting

In a news interview reported by the connected Press, two various other football players protected Vick and also ridiculed the idea that dogfighting is a crime:

…In an interview through WAVY-TV, (Clinton) Portis claimed that if the Atlanta Falcons quarterback is charged and convicted the being associated in a dog fighting operation, climate authorities would be “putting him behind bars because that no reason.”

“I don’t recognize if he was fighting dogs or not,” Portis said. “But the his property; it’s his dogs. If that’s what he desires to do, execute it.”

Portis claimed dog fighting is a “prevalent” component of life.

Portis, a indigenous of Laurel, Mississippi, added: “I understand a lot of of earlier roads that got a dog fight if you want to go see it. Yet they’re not bothering those people due to the fact that those civilization are not big names. I’m certain there’s some police gained some dogs that are fighting them, part judges obtained dogs and also everything else.”

“Politicians,” included (Chris) Samuels, who uncovered it hard to save from giggling when Portis to be talking.

“Presidents,” included Portis v a laugh.


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June 7, 2007 The commonwealth Investigation

A evil told federal investigators the dog carcasses were buried on the property. A federal investigator then asked regional authorities come execute a find warrant, however they go not. After waiting for a week, officials v the U.S. Department of agriculture executed their own search warrant and also found the remains of 6-8 dog in two mass graves. A month later, on July 6, commonwealth investigators enforcement a 4th search warrant.

July 17, 2007 The Federal instance – Indictment

Vick, now 27, and his 3 associates to be indicted by a federal cool jury in the Eastern ar of Virginia and also charged v violating federal legislation 18 U.S.C. § 371 Conspiracy to travel in Interstate commerce in aid of Unlawful tasks and come Sponsor a Dog in an pet Fighting Venture. The “interstate commerce” requirement provides the federal court jurisdiction end an activity otherwise regulation by the state. Interstate business in the Vick instance included moving fighting dogs across state lines and also hosting dogfight entrants from other states at poor Newz Kennels. The fee is a felony through a maximum penalty of 5 years prison. A charge under the pet Welfare plot (AWA) for animal fighting activities in violation of 7 USC § 2156 would have carried only a maximum penalty of one year every violation.

August 27, 2007 The Federal case – Guilty Pleas

After his three co-conspirators pled guilty and began cooperating with authorities, Vick also pled guilty, admitting to capital the dogfighting operation and the connected gambling operation. That admitted to knowing around four dogs the his co-conspirators killed in 2002, and also he admitted to agreeing come the hanging and drowning of 6-8 dogs that underperformed in 2007. Vick admitted he detailed most that the operation and also gambling monies, yet he claimed he did no gamble by placing side bets or receiving proceeds indigenous the purses.

Under the sentencing guidelines for this crime, most an initial time criminal would have actually received no prison time. However, chuck Rosenberg, the U.S. Attorney who prosecuted the case, described the actions of Vick, Peace and Phillips as “heinous, cruel and inhumane”, therefore he compelled that they expropriate a provision in the plea covenant that they “understated the severity of their conduct and that a sentence substantially over what would certainly otherwise be called for by the guidelines would be appropriate.” Rosenberg recommended 12-18 months in prison fairly than 0-6 months. Co-conspirator Tony Taylor to be not had in this recommendation because he was the an initial to plead guilty and also assist in the investigation. A sentencing hearing was booked for December 10, 2007.

The NFL rely Vick indefinitely without pay. After he is freed from prison, he could be reinstated.

September 24, 2007 The State instance – Indictment

Five month after the early investigation, a Surry County grand jury brought two charges against Vick:

one count of violating VA password Ann. § 3.1-796.124, which provides it a course 6 felony to encourage dogfighting for amusement, sport, or financial acquire or to possess, own, train, transport, or sell any kind of dog to plan for animal fightingone counting of violating VA code Ann. § 3.1-796.122(H), which renders it a class 6 felony to engage in the torture, ill-treatment, beating, maiming, mutilation, or killing of animals.

Peace, Phillips and also Taylor were charged with cultivating dogfighting . Taylor was likewise charged with three counts of unlawful torture and also killing the dogs, and also Peace was charged through one count. Every is a felony charge with a preferably 5 year jail term. The grand jury declined to bring eight feasible additional counts of pet cruelty against the s.

The adhering to is one excerpt from a news post describing the charges:

Poindexter claimed he pursued the case due to the fact that “crimes that were not prosecuted to be committed in Surry County.” but he would certainly not say even if it is his prosecutors placed Vick’s commonwealth court join that he killed dogs prior to the cool jury.

“Come on, lady, how much execute you have to know?” the told a reporter who was pressing the issue.

October 1, 2007 The Federal case – dogs Evaluated

A team of pet behavior professionals selected through the American society for the avoidance of Cruelty to animals analyzed the 49 seized dogs and then recommended even if it is they were suitable either to be adopted by families, trained as police dogs, placed in a sanctuary, or should be euthanized. Just one dog to be recommended because that euthanasia because of extreme aggression. The others were deemed an ideal to go to sanctuaries or foster homes for socialization training.

October 12, 2007 The Federal instance – Vick Lied around Killing Dogs

Even ~ pleading guilty come the commonwealth charges, Vick had not admitted to manual participation in the killing of poorly performing dogs. Investigators obtained conflicting statements from Vick’s co-conspirators. An FBI agent doubted Vick for 5 hours and also gave him a polygraph check that indicated he was lying. Vick lastly admitted to killing two dogs. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gill, Vick called the polygrapher, “I carried a dog over to Quanis Phillips, who tied a rope roughly its neck. I dropped the dog.”

October 15, 2007 The Federal case – Court Appoints Guardian because that Dogs

The U.S. Ar Court appointed Rebecca J. Huss, Professor of legislation at Valparaiso University college of Law, as the guardian/special master to recommend the Court regarding the last disposition of the remaining 48 seized dogs. Per her recommendation, the dogs were eventually distributed to eight rescue establishments for adoption, rehabilitation or lifetime treatment in sanctuaries, whereby they have been neutered.

Writer Jim Gorant described the evaluate of the dogs:

“What the team discovered was a blended bag. Fewer 보다 a dozen of the dogs were hardened fighters. Two had actually to be put down–one to be excessively violent and the various other was experiencing from an irreparable injury. Climate there to be a group identified as “pancake dogs”–animals for this reason traumatized they flattened themselves on the ground and also trembled when human beings approached. Another group seemed to be dog of relatively friendly typical temperament who simply had never to be socialized.”

November 19, 2007 The Federal case – Vick Reports beforehand to Prison

In a solitary day, Vick bought a $99,000 Mercedes; that cashed checks the totaled $24,900; he offered $44,000 to friends and relations; he payment a public connections firm $23,000; and also then he report to prison. In much less than 3 months since the job he pled guilty to federal charges, Vick invested over $3 million.

December 10, 2007 The Federal case – Sentencing

At the sentencing hearing, due to Vick’s deliberate false declaration to federal investigators about his function in killing dogs, the prosecutor encourage Vick it is in sentenced in ~ the upper end of the 12-18 month reminder range. Vick had also lied come investigators about testing confident for marijuana in September, a violation the the terms of his relax on bail.

A probation officer, that did not believe Vick had accepted responsibility, encourage an magnified sentencing variety of between 18 months and two year in prison.

U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson claimed Vick likewise played a major role by “promoting, funding and facilitating this cruel and also inhumane sporting activity”.

The judge included at the very least 5 month to the prosecutor’s recommended prison term, sentencing Michael Vick to 23 month in prison. Vick additionally received 3 years’ managed probation during which he can not buy, offer or very own dogs. He was fined $5,000. Vick was also ordered to salary $928,073 together restitution because that the 53 dog seized from his property. That was required to go into a drug/alcohol treatment program and pay for the cost of treatment. Vick is reserved to be released from federal prison July 20, 2009.

Peace, Phillips and Taylor every pled guilty come the exact same charge previously in the year. Peace was sentenced to 18 month prison and Phillips come 21 month prison.

A few days later, Tony Taylor was sentenced. Since Taylor had actually been the first co-conspirator to plead guilty and also had detailed investigators with details of the dogfighting operation, the prosecutor had actually recommended the Taylor just serve probation. However, the judge claimed it i will not ~ be same to offer Taylor probation ~ sentencing his co-defendants come 18 month or more in prison. That told Taylor, “You were as much an abuser of animals as any kind of other defendant in this case.” The referee sentenced Taylor come 2 months in prison.

The defendants cannot appeal the judge’s sentences.

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January 25, 2008 The Federal situation – Sentencing one Accessory

Oscar Allen, who had sold a pit bull come Vick and had attended some of the fights, was sentenced come 3 years probation and also a $500 fine. In October 2007 he had pled guilty to conspiracy to take trip in interstate commerce and also to aiding in illegal gambling and to sponsoring a dog in animal fighting. He had actually cooperated with the commonwealth investigation.