Monday, April 20, 2009

The positive side of the Michael Vick controversy

It may seem strange that a veterinarian can find anything upbeat emanating from such tragic and disturbing crimes as those committed with the venue and financial backing provided courtesy of Michael Vick. But once one can get past the outrage and sadness evoked by such events and step back with a clear mind to watch how the aftermath plays out, there almost always is some positive that one can take from the situation.

In this case, let us begin by seeing what became of the victims, the 66 Pit Bulls that were confiscated from Vick's cruel dog fighting facility. As reported last night by ESPN, sadly, 17 of them had to be euthanized, the magnitude of their mental and physical abuse having taken them beyond any possibility of rehabilitation. The remaining 49 ended up at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, one of the nation's largest no kill animal shelters. While one additional female had to be euthanized due to irreversible aggression, and a puppy euthanized for severely poor health, however, the rest began a compassionate 6-12 month journey of recovery with the ultimate goal to find homes for every dog. And although Frank McMillin, Best Friends lead veterinarian concedes that 100% of the dogs will not be adoptable, even those that will not ultimately be able to be placed, will have a 100% chance of living out their lives in peace.

In another regard, the high profile nature of this case brought to light a dark, underground, cruel element of our society that many heretofore were not aware of, and/or did not realize the scope of. This kind of attention has increased awareness among our law enforcement and our citizens in general, making it more difficult for dog fighting operations to thrive under the radar.

Finally, contrary to many animal rights activists' feelings that Michael Vick's sentence was far too lenient, I think that justice was ultimately done. While overall, Vick will not have served a great deal of time (the ESPN story also reported that he has been released to a halfway house as the next phase of rehabilitation back into society), he lost his cherished football career, his money (he recently filed for bankruptcy), and will forever have those vile pictures of animal cruelty fixed to his name like a ball and chain. His fall from eminence to infamy sends a message about what our nation thinks of those who victimize innocent animals.

While the Vick case brought us all great sadness and outrage, it ultimately also showcased a better side of humanity through the likes of Best Friends Animal Sanctuary. Most importantly, the Vick case brought awareness of the tragedy and cruelty of dog fighting, and galvanized our efforts to stop it.


Mackenzie1975 said...

Hey you missed my birthday this month. Ha.
Have a question about vets here in Ohio. Know any? I am working with a rescue that needs to be able to be billed for the vets services...they have a great record and do not plan on sticking anyone, but are having a hard time fronting it all with fosters spread all over the state.
Any contacts for me??
You know my email? first initial full last name at

Mackenzie1975 said...

BTW, I still hate that P.O.S...
but it was great of you to see the good in the midst of evil!!!!

Roger L. Welton, DVM said...

I know exactly who you are and am very happy to hear from you. If you recall, one of my distinctive personality traits is seeing the best of any situation. In the case of Vick, it is the situation that I find positive things coming out of, not the man or his associates that engaged in this despicable act of cruelty.

If that kind of cruelty is in one's heart, it is either innate or engrained as part of the person's persona. I do not see any amount of jail time changing that. That degree of cruelty can only be exsponged through a profound, cathartic experience.

Unfortunately, I only have one contact in Ohio and he would not likely be that magnanimous. Sorry, wish I could help more.

Happy birthday! I'll drop you a line on your e-mail when I get a chance.

Mackenzie1975 said...

Dang. I will finally be adopting the doberman that I have been dreaming of as soon as the fence is installed in my backyard! I am still hopeful that I can find a vet to help the rescue.
Hope FL is treating you well!