More Winograd on HSUS and Vick

Nathan J. Winograd

Dear Friends and Colleagues:

One of the dogs saved from Michael Vick

After almost twenty years working in the humane movement and several years as a criminal prosecutor, I have seen, read about, and experienced many unexpected and heartbreaking moments of animals being harmed. The conduct of Michael Vick ranks at the very top. And last week, the Commissioner of the National Football League (NFL) added insult to injury by reinstating Vick into the NFL. But the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is asking us to give Vick what he refused to give the dogs he abused and killed: a second chance. Based on what we know now, we should not do this.

There is a difference between sincere remorse and being used. If Michael Vick was sincere, this wouldn’t be about getting back into the NFL. This wouldn’t be about barring the public, keeping the media out, and blocking the windows. This wouldn’t be about meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or hiring “handlers” and public relations consultants. Michael Vick would be talking to anyone who would listen that he is truly sorry and will make it right. But, most importantly, he would be talking to federal investigators. And while the victims of his crimes—the dogs he tortured and killed—can never be brought back; while they can no longer think and feel and run and play and eat and sleep and bark and love and be loved; while their only life has been taken from them; while it is over, because they are gone, forever; there are dogs being killed and torn apart to this very day and Michael Vick has the power to stop it.

Michael Vick has the information which can deal a crushing blow to dog fighters and dog fighting in the United States. He can make a profound impact on the lives of dogs being abused and tortured today. In fact, there could be a dozen arrests and closures of dog fighting rings by now thanks to the information he could potentially provide to HSUS and federal investigators. He knows who the dog fighters are. He knows where the dog fights are held. He knows where they are getting the dogs. He knows where they are getting the animals used as “bait.” He knows where they live. He knows where they keep the dogs. He knows where they buy and keep the instruments of torture. He can stop it. A person as deeply involved in the U.S. dog fighting racket as Vick could implicate many other dog fighters and provide valuable information that could shut them down.

This is the commitment HSUS should have extracted from Michael Vick. Once the investigations were complete, once the arrests were made, once Michael Vick testified against them in court, once they were convicted, once the dogs being tortured were rescued, once the whole bloody enterprise was shut down, then and only then, should anyone listen to talk of remorse.

At the same time, HSUS would have been getting ready to do its part by using the money it raised and raises off its association with Michael Vick to build kennels across the country specifically for victims of dog fighting and all the dogs to be rescued from their campaign of dog fighting eradication, as is their job and so that local shelters aren’t left to do it alone. Those kennels would be staffed with HSUS employees whose jobs would not only be care, feeding, socialization and, for those dogs who need it, rehabilitation, but ultimately, it would include rescue transfer, adoption, and, if necessary, lifetime sanctuary care.

That is what I hope is happening behind the scenes. And that is what I hope they will announce: the simultaneous arrests of dog fighters all over the country thanks to information supplied by Michael Vick and an announcement by HSUS of the kennels they have been constructing to get ready in response, so none of the rescued dogs will be killed, as HSUS recommended for all of Vick’s victims.

But without any evidence of this—and given HSUS’ history of killing victims of dog fighting and defending poorly performing and abusive animal shelters; and given Vick’s sadistic history and history of lying to federal investigators—it would be na├»ve and irresponsible to believe that is what is going on.
I hope HSUS and Michael Vick prove me wrong. I hope they make the startling announcement. I hope we get to watch videos of federal agents busting operations thanks to information supplied by Vick. I hope they show the kennels HSUS has constructed to save those dogs. I promise this if they do: if they commit to saving all the rescued dogs, if things turn out to be what they should be, it won’t “erase” what Vick did, but no one will cheer louder than me.
For more reading:

Award Winning PBS Documentary

This month, PBS stations across the country will begin airing Fifteen Legs, an award winning documentary about saving the lives of animals from shelters that kill. The documentary tells the story of everyday heroes who go the extra mile (often thousands of miles) to save the lives of dogs and cats from killing shelters by driving them across the country into loving new homes.

The documentary is an indictment of the shelter killing system and a celebration of the indomitable spirit to do what is right. According to author and filmmaker Bonnie Silva,

Some people take issue with the term “kill-shelter” — asserting that this terminology unfairly indicts individuals who participate in the grim task of euthanizing completely adoptable animals. But even a softer term like “euthanizing shelter,” if it were to be used, cannot provide a thick enough gloss to conceal the disturbing, awful truth.

Animals who are euthanized or “put to sleep” do not wake up, ever. Whether they are euthanized by lethal injection, gassed or destroyed by other unspeakable means, they are no longer with us when the process of euthanizing them is complete. They cease to drink, cry, bark, meow, play and feel. They are gone.

But often, all that stands between death and freedom is a ride. And Bill Maher, host of “Real Time with Bill Maher” is telling you that “The clock is ticking – so come aboard a railroad like no other, and hitch a ride to freedom alongside society’s most desperate, unwanted animals.”

For more information, to watch a clip, and for broadcast schedule,
click here.

PAWS... For Some News

Do you have a passion for saving dogs? The Nevada Humane Society is looking a dog care manager to help fulfill their No Kill initiative. They are currently saving 93% of dogs and climbing.

For a copy of the job description, click here.

To apply, click here.

The No Kill Blog

Sadly, the large national groups have rallied around the decision by the NFL. HSUS has gone one step further and actually embraced Michael Vick. Read "Down the Rabbit Hole" by clicking here.

Twitter News & Tidbits

Follow me on twitter and stay up to date with No Kill news from around the country, including real time updates of new blog posts.

The Examiner

As the San Francisco Animal Shelter writer for, I am writing about local and national news from a San Francisco Bay Area perspective. Read the articles byclicking here.

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