PETA says Vick took, passed course on preventing animal cruelty
Michael Vick recently accepted an invitation from PETA and attended an eight-hour course on animal cruelty at the group's Virginia headquarters, according to the animal-rights group.
hope for best
hope for best
Now that a motion filed in U.S. District Court claims the overwhelming majority of pit bull terriers seized from a dogfighting operation bankrolled by Michael Vick need not be euthanized, animal welfare advocates are hoping for the best outcomes for the dogs.
But they are warning that future placement of the animals must be carried out thoughtfully.
"I wouldn't say I'm necessarily surprised," said John Goodwin, deputy manager of the Humane Society of the United States' campaign against animal cruelty. "This has been a case where there's been a pretty big spotlight on it. I think there is a lot of public sentiment that wanted the dogs to do well."
"They've been through a terrible situation. We hope there is a ray of sunshine for them," Goodwin said. "We just hope people exercise caution and proceed with great care so they don't end up hurting another animal or [end up] living a lonely life in a kennel run."
Shonali Burke, a spokeswoman for the ASPCA, said the organization "will go to great lengths to make sure the dogs are going to be placed in the right situations to provide the best quality of life for them."
"There have been a lot of steps so far to make sure these dogs have been treated well and humanely," she said.
-- ESPN.com senior writer Elizabeth Merrill
PETA assistant director Dan Shannon said when Vick completed the course, he was given material to take home and study. Shannon said Vick returned to the offices on a later day to take a test on the things he'd learned, which he passed. Though PETA officials are still pressing for jail time for Vick, Shannon did say everyone was impressed with the seriousness with which Vick approached his classes.
"He seemed nervous at first," Shannon said, "but he seemed really interested."
Vick's attorneys were not immediately available to comment on PETA's account of Vick's attending the class. The NFL also did not immediately return a call for comment.
Vick, the disgraced Atlanta Falcons quarterback, faces up to five years in prison and awaits sentencing after pleading guilty in a federal dogfighting case. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10. He recently was ordered confined to his Virginia home after testing positive for marijuana -- a violation of the conditions of his release while awaiting sentencing. The urine sample was submitted Sept. 13, according to federal court records.
Vick also has been indicted on state charges of beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and engaging in or promoting dogfighting. Each felony is punishable by up to five years in prison. His arraignment on those charges is set for Oct. 3.
Vick's representatives were first approached by PETA president Ingrid Newkirk. After an initial exploratory meeting involving Vick, Newkirk and Shannon, the quarterback agreed to attend a class, which he did on Sept. 18, PETA said.
According to PETA, Vick's day was specifically planned for him, and it focused on animal protection and empathy. First, he was given an overview of animal protection, then a session that laid out the scientific evidence for animals' ability to feel happiness, sadness and pain.
In the initial meeting, PETA said Vick had mentioned wanting to speak to school children, so he was shown the program they normally do at schools. He saw police training tapes that describe links between violence toward animals and violence toward humans. An entire session was based on Christian teachings about the treatment of animals.
"He seemed to get the most out of that," Shannon said. "He was blown away by how much the Bible had to say about animals."
Because of the impact PETA officials think the course had on Vick, Shannon sent a letter on Tuesday to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to make a similar course mandatory for all NFL players.
Wright Thompson is a senior writer for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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VICK SENTENCED TO 23 MONTHS
Michael Vick was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison and three years' probation for his role in a dogfighting conspiracy. The suspended Falcons quarterback is looking at a scheduled release of July 2009. Story
Update• GM: Falcons will attempt to trade Vick
• Lawyer: Vick might move to halfway house
• Former Vick estate fails to sell again
• Vick house fails to sell at auction
• Vick files for bankruptcy protection
• Prosecutor: Vick's Virginia trial can wait
• Vick ordered to repay Canadian bank $2.4 million
• Judge denies NFL motion to reverse Vick ruling
• Report: Vick not playing organized football in jail
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• Vick's state dogfighting trial to begin June 27
• Munson: Vick yet to enter drug treatment
The sentence• Vick sent to Kansas to serve rest of sentence
• Vick asked judge for leniency before sentencing
• Vick sentenced to 23 months | Document (pdf)
• Poll: What do you think? | What they're saying
• Clayton: Sentence puts career in jeopardy
• Munson: Tough sentence by displeased judge
• Teammates show support at Falcons game
• Can Vick return to playing in NFL?
• Pasquarelli: No longer top of mind in Atlanta
• Last Vick co-defendant sentenced
• Podcasts : Cossack | Schlereth | Munson/Naqi | Pasquarelli
• Chat wrap: David Cornwell
Post Plea• NFL wants court to reverse Vick bonus ruling
• Victory for Vick: QB can keep $20 million bonus
• Fifth defendant in Vick case receives probation
• Vick's house for sale for $1.1M
• Some Falcons to visit Vick in prison
• PETA unveils new e-card
• Former Virginia estate fails to sell at auction
• Out of Falcons' sight, almost out of mind
• Judge's casework offers look at possible sentence
• Remaining dogs placed with rescue groups
• Source: Feds may push judge to up sentence
• NFLPA argues Vick should not lose roster bonus
• Vick co-defendants get 18, 21 months in prison
• Vick agrees to put up almost $1M for dogs' care
• Vick given April trial date on state charges
• Vick surrenders to begin serving sentence early
• Home at center of Vick dogfighting scandal sold
• Vick fires one of his lawyers in dogfighting case
• Man who sold Vick pit bull pleads guilty
• Man connected to Vick dogfight ring pleads guilty
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• Vick tests positive for marijuana
• Vick supporters turn out for town meeting
• Vick's apology notes fetch $10.2K at auction
Vick's Plea/NFL Suspension• Vick pleads guilty to federal dogfighting charge
• The plea (PDF) | Statement of facts (PDF)
• Vick's statement: Watch it | Read it
• Roger Cossack explains plea deal
• Poll: Vick should be banned
• Va. Tech, Beamer continue to support Vick
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Town Hall meeting• Town Hall chat wrap: Chadiha
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• Munson: Looking at Judge Hudson
• Vick's high school learning lessons
• Bryant: Confounded by race issue
• Munson: Q&A about local indictment
• Munson: Next focus for Vick is length of sentence
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• Wojciechowski: Pay attention to the fallen star
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• Bryant: In failing Vick, NFLPA fails itself
• Munson: Vick plea means surrender
• Forde: Vick's epic fall
• Pasquarelli: Major blow for Falcons
• Chadiha: Lots of lessons to be learned
• Wojciechowski: Punishment with teeth
• Easterbrook: Little sympathy?
• Clayton: Vick's NFL future might be bleak
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