A barbaric practice

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 1, 2007

While it’s hard to find anything positive in the indictment of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick on dogfighting charges, the high-profile case has cast new light on an underground culture that feeds on sadistic cruelty, unscrupulous breeders and illegal wagering.
Dogfighting rightly belongs to medieval times, along with stoning or burning at the stake, yet it thrives in our modern era. According to an article in the News-Record of Greensboro, North Carolina is a “hotbed” of dogfighting activity, with at least seven dogfighting cases prosecuted thus far this year. Although none of those occurred in Rowan County, the heinous activity does occasionally crop up here, including a 2005 incident in which authorities arrested three people and confiscated several pit bulls that apparently had been used for fighting. Because dogfighting has been linked with gang activity, authorities also worry about a related surge between the two.
In the wake of the Vick case, an outcry from animal-rights activists no doubt influenced the NFL to bar Vick from pre-season practice with his team, and Nike and Reebok are both reconsidering Vick’s lucrative endorsement deals. Consider that a defensive move to protect the bottom line. Although Vick has pleaded not guilty to the charges and some have cautioned against a rush to judgment, a measure of moral outrage is justified here. You don’t have to convict Vick to be disgusted by the gruesome incidents described in the thick federal indictment that not only describes dogfighting at the compound owned by Vick but the sadistic execution of “losing” animals.
Still, it would be good if some of the outrage vented on this particular case was redirected toward the plight of millions of other abused and neglected animals across the country, including many in Rowan County. While deploring dogfighting, why not take a proactive step to help mistreated animals by making a donation to the Humane Society or similar group, or lobbying for better resources for animal control and the animal shelter? Unfortunately, we have increasing numbers of pets that are abandoned, neglected, abused and, all too often, sentenced to a one-way trip to the pound. These animals aren’t trained to fight. Rather, because of irresponsible owners, they don’t stand a fighting chance.