In from WASHINGTON, Fallout intensified Friday from NFL star Michael Vick’s indictment on charges linked to dogfighting, a practice that a longtime lawmaker denounced as “barbaric” on the floor of the U.S. Senate.
Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia on Thursday condemned dogfighting as “barbaric.”
Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, who has addressed lawmakers often about his love for animals, shook with emotion during a forceful condemnation of dogfighting.
“Hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars are often at stake in the breeding, the training and the selling of fighting dogs. How inhuman, how dastardly!” shouted the senator. “The training of these poor creatures to turn themselves into fighting machines is simply barbaric.”
Senate criticism increased Friday as Sen. John Kerry said he had sent a letter to the NFL commissioner calling for Michael Vick’s immediate suspension.
“Dogfighting is one of society’s most barbaric and inhumane activities,” Kerry wrote to Commissioner Roger Goodell.
“As the most popular team sport in America, professional football has a responsibility to showcase the highest levels of behavior and sportsmanship,” Kerry’s letter said.
The 2004 Democratic presidential nominee also said he planned to introduce anti-dogfighting legislation.
Kerry’s proposal would make it illegal to transmit images of dogfighting, to run Web sites that cater to dogfighting, and to won or train dogs for the purpose of fighting, according to his office.
Joining the call for Micjael Vick’s suspension were more than 50 animal rights protesters gathered Friday outside NFL headquarters in New York. The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals event followed a letter condemning dogfighting that the group sent to Michael Vick’s team, the Atlanta Falcons, Goodell and Michael Vick’s corporate sponsors.
The Humane Society of the United States also called for Michael Vick’s suspension and said on its Web site, “Anything less would be an outrage.” Watch Sen. Byrd’s tirade against dogfighting »
Michael Vick and three associates face federal conspiracy charges alleging they bought and sponsored dogs in a fighting venture and traveled across state lines to participate in illegal activity, including gambling, prosecutors announced Tuesday in Richmond, Virginia.
Michael Vick has yet to comment publicly on the charges, which prosecutors say could lead to a maximum six-year prison sentence and fines of $350,000.
The indictment hitMichael Vick personally Thursday when shoe manufacturer Nike announced it has suspended release of its Zoom Vick V shoe after “the serious and highly disturbing allegations.” The Beaverton, Oregon, company said in a written statement that, “We have not terminated our relationship” and that Michael Vick “should be afforded the same due process as any citizen.”
Vick’s boss, Falcons owner Arthur Blank, also said in a written statement Thursday he is “saddened and distressed” by the situation.
According to the indictment, Michael Vick and associates obtained a property near Smithfield, Virginia, for the purpose of staging dogfights, bought dogs and then fought them there, and in several other states, over a six-year period.
Dogs that didn’t show enough fighting spirit, or lost matches, were put to death by methods that included shooting, drowning, hanging and electrocution, according to the indictment. Prosecutors allege that on one occasion earlier this year, Vick participated in killing eight dogs.
Michael Vick, 27, was a standout athlete at Virginia Tech and the first player chosen in the 2001 NFL draft. He is one of pro football’s highest-profile and highest-paid players, and signed a 10-year, $130 million contract with the Falcons in 2004.
ESPN has reported that Michael Vick called Blank on Wednesday. ESPN sources said they believe Vick expressed contrition, and he apologized for any distractions the scandal may be creating. Vick also thanked Blank for his support, ESPN reported.
The statement from Blank indicated that team officials were weighing several factors in their response to Michael Vick’s indictment.
“This is an emotionally charged and complicated matter,” Blank said. “There are a wide range of interests and legal issues that need to be carefully considered as we move ahead, including our need to respect the due process that Michael is entitled to.”
The Falcons organization is aware, Blank said, of “differing perspectives and strong feelings” surrounding the case, but is “committed to doing the right thing.”
Blank said he was “saddened and distressed about this, not for myself, but for our fans and community who have been so loyal to us.”
Vick faces a bond hearing and arraignment before a federal judge in Richmond on July 26, which also is opening day of Falcons’ training camp.
Thank you CNN News
Sounds like to me that Michael Vick needs a “poop scoop” for this one…the provberial dog poop has hit the fan.
Thumbs down for Michael Vick!
~The Baby Boomer Queen~