Michael Vick’s attorneys are reportedly engaged in plea negotiations with prosecutors, following the news that two more of his codefendants have stated that they will enter guilty pleas this week. Federal sentencing guidelines dictate that Vick will likely face jail time if he does reach a plea agreement.
PETA has written a letter to Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Gill asking that he include a provision in any plea prohibiting Michael Vick from owning or harboring any animal in the future. It’s absolutely vital—though sadly often overlooked—that criminals who are convicted in animal cruelty cases be permanently barred from owning animals, since the likelihood for repeat offenses is extremely high with this kind of crime. This is especially true of dogfighting, and when you’re talking about cruelty as gruesome as the charges against Vick and his codefendants allege, the number one priority of the prosecutors should be ensuring that these guys are never allowed near an animal again if they’re found guilty of dogfighting.
You can read our letter to the prosecutor below, and I’ll keep you updated on any developments in this case as it proceeds.
August 14, 2007
Dear Mr. Gill:
One small but vital matter with regard to Michael Vick’s possible plea bargain:
We implore your office to include a provision prohibiting Mr. Vick from owning and/or harboring any animal.
Our office is made aware of hundreds of cruelty-to-animals cases weekly. Some involve animal fighting, and involve dogs who have been forced to fight, cruelly trained, and set afire and/or drowned if the match is “lost.” One commonality shared by animal abusers and dogfighters is recidivism—we see this time and time again. By keeping animals from their hands, and off of their properties, your office is in the position to help ensure that Vick (if he pleads guilty) and his codefendants do not cause more harm than that which has already been alleged in the indictment against them. Further, any plea agreement, with respect, must also permit local officials to visit any suspect properties at their discretion, in order to determine compliance with the prohibitive provision.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Martin Mersereau, Manager
Cruelty Casework Division