NEW YORK, December 10, 2007—The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) applauded the strong and appropriate sentence received today by NFL quarterback, Michael Vick, as he appeared before Judge Henry Hudson in Richmond, Va. Vick, who pleaded guilty in August 2007 to federal charges against him and three other co-defendants in a dog fighting-related investigation, was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison, which is at the higher end of the federal sentencing guidelines of 18 to 24 months. In addition, his sentence is followed by three years’ probation, during which time he cannot own nor have anything to do with dogs other than to provide support to humane organizations.
“This is a significant moment in the history of animal cruelty prosecution,” said Ed Sayres, president & CEO of the ASPCA, “and sends a clear message to criminals everywhere—that this kind of gross and barbaric cruelty to animals will not be tolerated. We applaud all the agencies involved for their remarkably integrated, swift and thorough investigation and prosecution of this case—which we have been honored to have assisted in—which gives us some comfort that those animals who suffered and died did not do so in vain.”
Earlier this year, Vick pleaded guilty to conspiring to travel in interstate commerce in aid of unlawful activities (“Travel Act”), and to sponsoring a dog in an animal fighting venture. Effective immediately, he will serve 23 months, less the time he has already served after surrendering himself early. Two of his co-defendants, Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips were sentenced to 18 and 21 months respectively on November 30. The fourth co-defendant, Tony Taylor, will be sentenced on December 14.
The ASPCA has assisted Federal authorities in their investigation from the beginning of this case, with Dr. Melinda Merck, forensic veterinarian with the ASPCA, assisting in the excavation of the graves and examination of the remains. Later, the ASPCA’s Executive Vice President and Science Advisor, Dr. Stephen L. Zawistowski, CAAB, led a team of animal behavior experts in evaluating the dogs seized from Vick’s Virginia property by federal officials. Following that, the ASPCA-led team made recommendations to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Attorney’s office regarding their disposition, and worked closely with the Guardian/Special Master of the dogs, Rebecca Huss, on their disposition. Due to the sensitive nature of the evaluations and the ongoing criminal process, further details are not possible at this time.
For more information on the ASPCA, to learn more about staying alert to animal cruelty, or how you can join the fight against it, please visit www.fightcruelty.org.