Today, Michael Vick announced that he would be taking a plea deal. Less than a month after wanting to clear his name, Vick announced that he will take a plea deal that would give him up to 18 months of jail time. The NFL indicates that Vick’s representations to them are not the same actions as those being revealed through his legal discussions.
The question as to whether this single high profile case will bring greater awareness and attention to animal abuse is one that is entirely separate from the Vick case itself. The CEO of the Humane Society said, “The only good that can come from this case is that the American people dedicate themselves to the task of rooting out dogfighting in every infected area where it thrives.” However, Michael Vick’s dogfighting case is not the usual circumstance. A majority of dog fighting occurs in tandem with drugs and other violent crimes in urban areas. A detailed discussion of the history of dog fighting and legal fight to end dog fighting can be read here. For those who are not concerned about the animals, the article discusses non-animal effects of dog-fighting, such as how dog fighting desensitizes children to violence and how, as an integral part of drug culture, it harms the communities in which it takes place.
What can be most disturbing, as an extension of these discussions, is the idea of how violence such as this, particularly from one who engages in a physically demanding and occasionally violent sport, speaks to how Vick would act on the field. Small children who torture animals are often viewed as dangerous. Violence towards animals by young children is considered an early sign of Conduct Disorder, which is defined as “a repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated.” Although three of fifteen symptoms are required for a diagnosis, and no one is indicating that Vick suffers from this disorder, people should nonetheless be concerned about the safety of others on the field with Vick. Michael Vick, an adult with an even greater sense of right and wrong than the average child, should be held to a higher standard than a child. Football is, by its definition, a sport that involves physical interaction. An opponent could well question Vick’s intentions on the field in light of his inhumane treatment of animals. Again, not to say that Vick suffers from Conduct Disorder, but he does, at minimum, show a disrespect for life and health, albeit dogs not humans. In a field that requires the utilization of controlled violence, both opponents on the field and fans of the sport should be concerned about how Vick’s actions off the field could affect his actions on the field. The manner in which the dogs were slaughtered shows general disregard for their lives. Vick’s actions on the football field should be questioned, should he ever be allowed to return to the game. The NFL has several decisions to make regarding the future of Vick as a player. At some point, it will have to take a stand. Hopefully, one of the aspects reviewed will be the implications of Vick’s play on the field in light of his disregard for health and well-being of other living creatures.
All of this being said, dogs, too, should have their say. As such, JD and Max would like to express their feelings on this subject since they consider today’s plea a vicktory, of sorts.