I’m slow to react to the news. I don’t like to get caught up in the misinformation, rumors, and hysteria that often accompany breaking stories. So I’ve quietly watched the stories about Michael Vick’s dog fighting ring unfold over the past several years.
Don’t get me wrong. I think the behavior of Michael Vick and his dog fighting friends was egregious and inexcusable.
But I also understand that real people do stupid and vile things because they’re weak and fearful.
When we lived in Southwest Philadelphia, the teenagers in our neighborhood liked to keep pit bulls for “protection.” They’d tie them up, deny them food, and taunt them to make them “tough.” Of course when any one of these pitties was out on their chain and prong collar, they’d come up to me and my husband with stubby tails wagging and tongues hanging out with sheer joy for the attention we gave them. We kept telling the neighborhood kids that if you want a protective dog, you feed him well, bond with him, and be the best person in the world to him. Did any of it get through to them? I don’t know.
So when I first heard about Michael Vick and his Bad Newz Kennels, I thought of those scared teenage boys who wanted to look tough. Who knew that if they didn’t hurt first, they would get hurt. And scared people can do a lot of damage. As Michael Vick did.
Jim Gorant, a senior editor at Sports Illustrated, has written a book entitled The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s Dogs and Their Tale of Rescue and Redemption. And the normally sedate comment section (at least by typical internet standards) at the NPR website is showing its crazy side. Evidently some people hate to see so much time taken up on the care of animals as opposed to humans. And others resent a Sports Illustrated staffer wasting his time on dog fighting instead of important stuff like football and basketball.
And this is the wider world that those of us who are interested in the welfare of animals need to inhabit. Those of us who believe that humans benefit greatly when we care for animals need to participate in these conversations. So I’m planning my comment at the NPR webpage and maybe you want to chime in too.