Protesters begin anti-Vick demonstrations at Falcons camp

Updated: July 23, 2007, 10:27 PM ET
Associated Press

FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. -- Animal-rights advocates and their dogs gathered Monday outside Atlanta Falcons headquarters, calling for the suspension of Michael Vick following his indictment on dogfighting charges.

About four dozen people took part in the protest organized by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They held signs reading "Kick Vick," "Tackle Cruelty" and "Sack Vick!"

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday night ordered Vick to stay away from the Falcons' training camp until the league reviews the dogfighting charges against him.

"Just because he's famous, he shouldn't get off the hook," said Emory Lewman, 12, of Sandy Springs, who came with three of her friends. "What he did was terrible."

Among the grisly findings in the federal indictment handed down last week in Richmond: Losing dogs either died in the pit or were electrocuted, drowned, hanged or shot.

"He has made a bad name for himself and he's hurting the team," said Fran Takacs of Norcross. "I used to be an NFL fan, now I'm not."

The protesters plan to demonstrate for a few hours each day until training camp begins Thursday.

"The Falcons can get rid of us right away if they suspend Michael Vick. And we hope they choose to do that," said Dan Shannon, assistant director of campaigns for PETA.

The organization mustered about 50 people for a protest Friday in New York at NFL headquarters and its campaign to urge the NFL to suspend Vick is the centerpiece of PETA's Web site.

Protesters of Michael Vick
AP Photo/Gene BlytheThe demonstration against Michael Vick at Falcons camp began in earnest Monday for picketers. The team opens training camp Thursday, the day Vick is to be arraigned.

PETA issued a statement saying the federal indictment "details a well-planned, professional-level underground dogfighting enterprise responsible for the suffering and painful death of innumerable animals in several states.

"Although the exact level of Vick's involvement remains to be seen, the facts are in: Vick is co-owner of a pit bull breeding ring, animals fought and died on his property, and dead animals were unearthed there -- this information alone is more than enough for the NFL to suspend Vick," said the statement issued by PETA vice president Bruce Friedrich.

The NFL said Vick would continue to be paid. PETA took issue with that policy.

"Vick should not be paid to sit at home and work on his defense," the organization said.

Falcons spokesman Reggie Roberts said the team will have no comment about the protests.

Vick is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday. The NFL has said it would monitor legal developments in the case in which Vick and three associates face multiple charges outlined in an 18-page indictment.

The four are accused of competitive dogfighting, procuring and training pit bulls for fighting, and conducting the enterprise across state lines.

The operation was named "Bad Newz Kennels," according to the indictment, and the dogs were housed, trained and fought at a property owned by Vick in Surry County, Va.

Conviction carries up to six years in prison, fines of $350,000 and restitution.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press