Dear Editor:

I wish to respond to the editorial which appeared in the Aug. 1, 2007 (a reprint from a publication The American in Moore, OK, written by Michael Kinney) entitled “There are worse crimes than Vick’s”.

I found this column lacking not only in humanity but sorely lacking in facts. Mr. Kinney states that issues of “race, money, class and politics” are at play in Vick’s recent federal indictment for dog fighting. Those issues certainly did not seem to deter his being the highest paid National Football League player in the United States, nor his Atlanta Falcon’s celebrity status representing numerous athletic companies with contracts in the millions of dollars.

Poor Mr. Vick. I feel so sorry for the discrimination being waged against him.

Mr. Kinney raised the question as to why “The big guns came to the party when the federal government decided to get involved. Which, to my knowledge, has never happened before in a case centered on dog fighting.”

The Animal Fighting Prohibition Enforcement Act passed Congress and was signed into law by President George Bush on May 3, 2007, and thus has only been in effect a short two months. Although dog fighting is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, only now is it possible to arrest people on federal charges because state lines are being crossed in the transportation of animals for this illegal purpose.

Not only do dogs used for fighting lead lives of misery, “the vast underground networks of individuals who engage in this blood sport generate pervasive animal cruelty, drug trafficking, illegal gambling, public corruption and even violence and murder.” (Source: The Humane Society of the United States, 8.1.2007).

As it should be, the federal penalty for this crime is severe – each violation of the federal law may bring up to three years in jail and up to $250,000 fine for perpetrators.

So, it’s a law with teeth (no pun intended), even if you are the highest paid quarterback in the NFL.

Federal authorities were right to make an example out of Vick, that’s big news, and the media were right to give it big coverage.

It’s important that celebrities be held to the same standard of behavior as the common man. I was thrilled to see Vick indicted and I hope he will receive the justice he deserves, whatever that turns out to be. Anyone who would not only breed, fund and fight dogs but shoot, hang or electrocute the ones who were too gentle to do it – ought to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

To imply that people partaking in the blood sport of dog fighting need not be pursued as the criminals they are, is to fail to recognize a greater risk, as well. People who abuse animals (and that is what dog fighting is – animal abuse – are many times more likely to abuse people. Spouses and children of abusers recount time and time again that the violence and intimidation they experienced themselves was first taken out on a family pet.

Any breed of dog can be tortured or abused into fighting, but the latest “breed” victimized by dog fighters is the pit bull terrier. Among the most intelligent of dogs, this was the dog in the old “Little Rascals” movies – the one with a black patch over one eye. While pits can be lethal if trained to be, they are more inclined to be gentle – especially with children – when bred, socialized and trained humanely. In Lexington, Ky., several are even therapy dogs in the Pawsibilities Unleashed of Kentucky therapy dog program, such as Angel, the one shown in the attached photograph. (Visit the Web site of Jason Mann, therapy dog volunteer and pit rescuer: http://www.pitbulllovers.com/pitbulls-therapy-dogs-kentucky.html for more information.) Angel is the kind of dog which Vick electrocuted ... or hung ... or shot because she would have been too gentle to fight.

Make no mistake about it. People who participate in dog fighting or cockfighting – and there are some centers for animal fighting in Pulaski County, Ky., it’s not just done other places – are committing a disgusting and illegal act. They deserve to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Finally, this community should be very grateful to the for giving good dog causes in the area (therapy dog programs, kennel club and humane society programs) wonderful exposure. These programs flourish in large measure because of their ability to educate and involve the community. But I was disappointed that Kinney’s column was reprinted in our local newspaper and given such prominent visibility, although I know its presence does not constitute endorsement.

In fact, I would like to challenge our newspaper and our county law enforcement to investigate pockets of dog fighting, puppy mills and other animal abuse in Pulaski County. We should not naively turn a blind eye and think such cruelty does not exist in our own county. Because it does.

Sincerely,

Gloria Sams

Somerset, Ky.

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