Friday, May 25, 2007

Today in Dog Fighting

Forgive us for giving so much attention to this story: it's just that so many of our interests (football players, treatment of animals, law) are all wrapped up in the story, so we're fascinated.

WAVY 10 (via Fanhouse) reports that "Gerald Poindexter plans to ask Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell to review the evidence and decide himself if the case should go forward. This includes whether anyone will be prosecuted." However, the AJC reports "The prosecutor in the investigation of a possible dogfighting operation at a house owned by Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is confident charges will be brought. He can't yet say who will be charged. 'We are moving forward,' Surry County Commonwealth attorney Gerald Poindexter said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press on Friday. He declined to set a timetable for when evidence in the case would be ready to present to a grand jury." According to the AJC, "Poindexter said, erroneous reports have surfaced that the dogs were malnourished and that many had scarring and injuries consistent with dogfighting. The dogs, he said, appeared largely to have been well cared for." It's not mistreatment of the dogs that raises suspicion, according to Poindexter, but bloody carpet, blood spatters, and a pry bar. However, we should note that WAVY-10 earlier stated that "Poindexter denied that he had seen scarred dogs, though our video of the property clearly showed dogs with scars on their faces."

I've sort of been picturing Poindexter as this restrained, thorough, very official-sounding lawyer. But go here, and click to watch the video titled "Surry County Commonwealth's Attorney speaks to WAVY TV." Poindexter is standing outside a very rural-looking building in a flowered Hawaiian shirt abrasively laughing off or scoffing at the reporter's questions and statements. The report has all the antagonistic cutting of typical local TV news, but I now get the impression of Poindexter as an almost stereotypical small-town, provincial official accustomed to handling things his way and not being questioned. Surry County has a population of about 7,000 people, so maybe that's a fair impression of the county's officers. I found this sentence on the Wikipedia page pretty amusing: "Surry County, mainly a farming community, didn't get its first traffic light until March 2004. [This statement is incorrect, Surry County has long had a traffic light at the intersection of Routes 10 and 31.]" It's like somebody made a joke about the county being really backwoods, and somebody had to respond, "That's not true! We've had one stoplight in this county for a long time!" But the small size of the rural county does make me wonder whether they have the resources for a thorough investigation of such a case.

We have no assumptions here; investigators have said that they believe dog fighting occurred and that charges are possible, but there has been no word whatsoever from any official about who could be charged. They are wisely making the investigation thorough, deliberate, and slow.

But lest you minimize the brutality and horror of dogfighting, you might want to see some images that are the results of dogfights. If you can stomach it, you can see such images here, here, here, here, or here. We don't know for sure what happened at the Vick property, nor who is responsible; we firmly hope the investigators are able to establish what happened and the prosecutors are able to punish those responsible. But please, don't try to minimize the significant brutality involved in dogfighting. It's a reprehensible sadistic activity.

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