Vick’s Dogfighting Sentence Incomplete Without Counseling, Community Service

American Humane is pleased that NFL quarterback Michael Vick was sentenced today to a minimum of 23 months in prison for his part in a dogfighting ring, along with three years of supervised release and a ban on owning dogs.

“We believe this sentence shows that the legal system and, hopefully, society at large, now recognizes just how unacceptable and barbaric dogfighting is,” said Marie Belew Wheatley, president and CEO of American Humane. “It also sends a clear and strong message that dogfighting will no longer be tolerated in a humane world. We are extremely disappointed, however, that the judge did not require Mr. Vick to undergo psychological counseling or treatment, or even meaningful community service or humane education, which is what American Humane specifically asked the judge to consider.”

American Humane’s director of public policy, Allie Phillips, was present in the courtroom during Vick’s sentencing. “American Humane is highly alarmed that, during the sentencing, Vick still did not display or verbalize any remorse for the dogs that were killed, brutalized or injured in his dogfighting endeavor — some at his own hand, according to his signed plea agreement,” she said. “Vick’s lack of acknowledgment that what he did to animals was cruel and inhumane, we believe, shows that he truly does need psychological and empathy counseling. We hope it will be made a condition of his supervised release — or even that he will choose to enter appropriate counseling voluntarily — so that his sentence will serve not merely to punish him, but to rehabilitate him.”

Also today, U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced legislation that would allow for better tracking of animal cruelty crimes by including them in the FBI’s crime data reporting system. “We strongly support this important legislation,” said Phillips. “It will finally enable local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to collect national statistics on yearly crime rates, prevent recurrence of animal cruelty, and address its connection to other societal crimes.”

About American HumaneThe American Humane Association is the only national organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals. Founded in 1877, American Humane is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year. Through a network of child and animal protection agencies and individuals, American Humane develops policies, legislation, curricula and training programs to protect children and animals from abuse, neglect and exploitation. The nonprofit membership organization, headquartered in Denver, raises awareness about The Link® between animal abuse and other forms of violence, as well as the benefits derived from the human-animal bond. American Humane’s regional office in Los Angeles is the authority behind the “No Animals Were Harmed”® end credit disclaimer on film and TV productions, and American Humane’s office in Washington is an advocate for child and animal protection at the federal and state levels. American Humane meets the strong, comprehensive standards of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, has been awarded the Independent Charities of America “Best in America” Seal of Approval, and has received a 3-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s leading charity evaluator. Visit to learn more.


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