Nobody advocates more effectively on a national scale to protect animals than the formerly timid Humane Society. Wayne Pacelle, its president, has changed the whole tenor of the organization in a completely positive way.
But that doesn't mean the society's alliance with newly-released former prisoner and NFL star Michael Vick doesn't make me nervous. I'm of two minds about using the Humane Society's stellar image to rehabilitate an obviously cruel person.
Vick is now shilling for the Humane Society as he tries to get back into the NFL's good graces. Why wouldn't he? According to CNN, Vick is starting a new construction job at $10/hr. That's a far cry from his $130 million contract as a star pro football player.
While Vick's most heinous crime, in my mind, was breeding pit bulls for illegal dog fights--mauling and killing many in the process and turning them against other animals--it was far from his only crime. He also bankrolled a gambling ring and engaged in wickedness and violence as part of that. Here's a snippet about how he treated his dogs who refused to fight to the death:
John Goodwin of the Humane Society said the manner in which losing or unwilling dogs were killed was especially troubling.
"Some of the grisly details in these filings shocked even me, and I'm a person who faces this stuff every day," he said. "I was surprised to see that they were killing dogs by hanging them and one dog was killed by slamming it to the ground. Those are extremely violent methods of execution -- they're unnecessary and just sick."
And then there's the "rape stand" he set up for females unwilling to be bred. This from Slate:
Pooches die so often in fights that owners always need new dogs. This is where the rape stand, also called a breeding stand, comes in. It consists of two steel poles mounted to the ends of a platform that's often made of wood. U-shaped pieces of curved metal sit atop each pole; one goes around the belly of a female pit bull and the other around her neck. The stand isn't illegal, but dog breeders don't normally use it; after all, female dogs in heat aren't so particular. And most people wouldn't want to breed poorly socialized dogs that must be strapped down to mate. But breeders of attack dogs place special value on females that are so mean they might bite any male dogs that get too close.
Can this guy ever do anything to rehabilitate himself? My answer is no. The Humane Society hopes he can be a role model for other kids and steer them away from animal abuse. I'm still nervous.
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By Bonnie Erbe