American Humane Association
DENVER, July 21, 2009 – This is a statement from Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of the American Humane Association, relative to the issue of Michael Vick completing his sentence and whether he will be reinstated by the National Football League:
July 19, 2007
The Humane Society of the United States renewed its call for the NFL to immediately suspend Michael Vick, citing a huge negative response from Americans who are appalled by the dogfighting allegations in a 19-page federal indictment against Vick and three co-defendants.
HSUS officials appeared on numerous television and radio programs this week alongside football commentators, attorneys, and others. Widespread condemnation of the dogfighting activities Vick is charged with is reverberating on the airwaves and in newspapers across the country. While acknowledging that Vick has the right to his day in court, The HSUS is disturbed by the message the NFL and the Falcons are sending by letting Vick continue to play under such serious allegations of animal cruelty.
Yesterday, The HSUS urged their online advocates to send the NFL a strong message that dog fighting is a gruesome act that should not be condoned by allowing Michael Vick to continue playing professional football. The campaign has been the largest campaign to date for The HSUS, and generated a wave of activity that shut down the organization's website for a large portion of the day.
The NFL claims that it is waiting to see whether Vick is convicted or not before taking any disciplinary action, but The HSUS calls on the league to stop sitting on the sidelines. If it does nothing but wait for the legal process to run its course, The HSUS argues, then the NFL's internal code of conduct is entirely meaningless.
"By allowing Michael Vick to continue as a part of the NFL, they are clearly ignoring the cries of the American public and are seemingly condoning these barbaric acts," said Wayne Pacelle, President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. "While these disturbing dog fighting charges against Vick are being prosecuted, the NFL and the Falcons need to disassociate themselves from this cruel and unacceptable conduct. Vick will have the opportunity to defend himself in court; by not suspending him the NFL is sending the wrong message to the American public."
In a May 3rd letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Pacelle offered HSUS collaboration to investigate and eradicate any illegal animal fighting, and to help educate NFL players about animal cruelty issues. To date, the NFL has not taken advantage of the opportunity to work with The HSUS.
"The NFL and the Falcons must take a stand against animal fighting by reversing their decision not to suspend Vick and implementing internal policies to raise awareness about animal cruelty," added Pacelle.
The HSUS has assisted in the investigation of this case and also has control of the care of the surviving dogs seized from Vick's property. More information is available online at humanesociety.org
July 27, 2009
NEW YORK— The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) today issued a statement from ASPCA President and CEO Ed Sayres in response to suspended NFL star and convicted dogfighter Michael Vick's conditional reinstatement to the National Football League:
"Leaders are challenged to make difficult decisions on a daily basis—often under intense scrutiny and pressure," said Sayres. "Commissioner Roger Goodell's decisions surrounding the Michael Vick case are no exception. While his decision to reinstate Mr. Vick undoubtedly will be met with cheers by some and derision by others, it is clear that the Commissioner has been particularly thoughtful and has weighed every factor in his deliberations. The ASPCA can only offer him our gratitude for the gravity to which he has lent the issue of animal cruelty, as well as the provisions that the Commissioner has set forth to ensure that Mr. Vick has a positive impact on the NFL and his community.
"Opportunities for redemption are rare—but that is exactly the opportunity that awaits Mr. Vick. We hope that he rises to the occasion and proves worthy of the rare second chance Commissioner Goodell has granted him."
The ASPCA worked closely with federal authorities at every step of the case, first assisting in the investigation itself through the involvement of Dr. Melinda Merck, senior director of Veterinary Forensics with the ASPCA, and later when Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, CAAB, executive vice president of ASPCA Programs, led a team of several Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists in the behavior evaluations of the seized dogs.