Letters to the Editor

Voice of the People - July 22, 2007

Vick indictment puts spotlight on dogfighting

The human condition is an amazing phenomenon. Shared experiences can lift our collective spirits and urge us on to bigger and better things. Commonalities can bring people together and help us be better and achieve more than we could as individuals. From random acts of kindness or generosity to those who dedicate their lives to helping others, daily events can make us proud of the human species.

At the other end of the spectrum, all too often we become aware of acts that seem almost beyond our comprehension. Things that truly make us sit back and wonder what in the world is going on. That is how I felt as allegations related to a dogfighting indictment have emerged against NFL star Michael Vick and others.

As sports fans, we often want to believe the magic that touches the golden arms or blazing feet (or, in Vick's case, both) of our star athletes somehow extends down into their souls. It is a cliché, but true, that these sports icons are thrust into the limelight as role models whether they ask for it or not.

In this case, Vick's innocence or guilt will be played out and decided in the courts. And if it turns out he wasn't involved with this barbaric subculture, it will unfortunately still be a shadow that will follow him for the rest of his life.

But the media coverage that comes with Vick's celebrity has exposed the underworld of these canine death matches and looks to be the silver lining in this dark cloud. There has been a collective sense of outrage as the gruesome details of animal cruelty have emerged into our public consciousness.

And therein lies the hope -- that dogfighting will be dragged, kicking and screaming, out from the shadows. The white-hot spotlight that shines on Vick will be refocused in the form of a communal scrutiny on these bloody battles among dogs that have been bred and trained for the sole purpose of being killers.

So, let's take this opportunity to translate the passion sparked by this story into a call for action. We can start by making dogfighting a felony in all 50 states (Wyoming and Idaho consider it a misdemeanor). And the loopholes in some state laws should also be closed. While dogfighting may be a felony, possession of dogs for fighting or being a spectator at a dogfight may be only a misdemeanor or even legal in certain states.

Dogs have long been considered man's best friend -- here is an opportunity for us to return the favor!

Derick Wilder

Fort Mill