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Blood Sports Are an Evil Inheritance

By: Carl Langley
EdgefieldDaily.com Columnist

web posted July 18, 2007
GUEST COLUMN – Cockfighting and dogfighting are the evil hand-me-downs from ancient times, and despite laws prohibiting them in most of our states they still flourish.

I am animal lover, so each time I hear law enforcement officers have raided and broken up one of these horrid events I give a rousing cheer. I long for the day when this despicable blood sport is purged forever, but I fear it will take a dramatic change in some people‘s attitudes.

A few weeks back law enforcement officials in Surry County, Va., swooped down on a 15-acre tract in the state’s rural outback and uncovered evidence of a dog fighting operation.

It would have been the usual back page story except for one thing: the man whose property on which investigators found dead and dying dogs, pens, training rings and execution chambers is Michael Vick.

Vick is a name well known to fans of the National Football League. He is the quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons. A quarterback is supposed to be the leader of his team, both on the field and off the field.

However, I regard Vick not as a leader. He is either a liar or a fool. I tend to believer he is a liar. Then again, it takes a fool to be a liar because somewhere along the way contrived tales usually fall apart.

Vick greeted reports about the federal authorities raiding his property by saying he didn’t know what was going on there and he seldom visited the place. If he didn’t inspect his own property from time to time, he is a fool. And that sets him up to be a liar.

Regardless of which category into which Vick fits at the moment, he certainly shouldn’t be the leader of a professional football team. The way he has played over the past several years shows he doesn’t have the tools to be a leader of an NFL football team.

The paperwork filed in U.S. District Court did offer some temporary cover to Vick, or anyone else responsible for the dog fighting operation, because no names were mentioned. I am hopeful that as the investigation deepens the real villains will be identified and dragged before the bar of justice.

A statement by a spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States does provide a glimmer of hope that the one or ones responsible for this reprehensible operation will be identified and brought to justice.

“They got good, solid evidence from somewhere, either an informant or a psychic,” said John Goodwin. He went on to add that federal investigators were given some accurate information. Let us pray he is right.

Courthouse chatter is that within the next few days investigators and prosecutors will complete accumulating their evidence and the entire bundle will be turned over to a grand jury. It will be up to that body to start the wheels of justice moving.

Among the piles of evidence that investigators have gathered are numerous photographs that show the awful conditions of this place of depravity and death. They are the kinds of pictures that can move animal lovers to tears.

Unlike Vick, if I owned that piece of miserable real estate I would drop by on occasion to see how things are going. I, for one, can’t believe anyone who buys a tract of land then professes to not going near the place. It has been reported Vick has sold the place.

I am an animal lover and would never be able to look at these grisly pictures. So my main question is, how can anyone calling himself or herself a human being sit by and watch pit bulldogs tear each other to pieces? For the record, I would be the last one to call the garden variety NFL player a human being. At least one NFL team has had nearly a dozen of its players arrested for various infractions of the law. The team is the leader for the league’s All-Thug team.

The talk among some in law enforcement is that Vick isn’t out of the woods in this case. The officers handling the case said they have found he has bred and sold pit bulldogs through two companies and once operated an Internet website promoting his sideline.

Before it was taken down, Vick’s website reportedly noted that “we do not promote, support or raise dogs for fighting.” Sure, and the moon is made of green cheese, cows can fly and shrimp can whistle. I refuse to believe that Vick was pushing pit bulldogs because of his love for the animals.

Years ago I talked with a law enforcement officer who had been on a task force that ran down a chicken fighting operation in Aiken County. He told me that people breed, raise and sell fighting cocks and pit bulldogs for one reason: to provide the fodder for blood sport.

There’s something about this nasty business that does bring out the worst in people. If you weren’t a thief or crook before you got into it, there’s a good chance the association will rub off on you and lead to criminal acts.

A few years back Charles Sharpe, who had been elected to the state’s highest agriculture office, was sent to federal prison for two years for taking a $10,000 bribe. He sold his support, in the form of the traditional blind eye, to a group of chicken fighters needing a safe haven.

If Michael Vick is connected to this arena of death he should get the same treatment the federal courts handed out to Sharpe, who had everything going for him but chose, out of greed, to take the tainted money from the worst kind of people imaginable.

Sharpe built his political fortune by serving as a member of the state House of Representatives, then turned that base into a launching pad that led to election as commissioner of agriculture. He really had the world at his fingertips, albeit it a small one.

Only Sharpe knows what transgressions he committed during the years he served in the House. We do know that he cared little about the oaths of office he took, so it is reasonable to assume he cared not one whit about a game chicken or pit bulldog.

The trouble with the American justice system is that too many people share the same traits as Sharpe and all the other evildoers who willingly sacrifice not only defenseless animals but their own respect in promoting blood sports. As long as these attitudes prevail nothing will change.


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