Is it a case of the fervor of the newly enlightened, or is it a way to improve his public image? We’re not sure, but yesterday, Yahoo News reported that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has urged Alabama lawmakers to increase penalties for cockfighting!
Michael Vick served a 23-month prison sentence for his involvement in dog fighting. When his sentence ended, Vick told Humane Society President and CEO Wayne Pacelle that as he grew up, dog fighting was part of his culture, and that he “never sufficiently questioned it as he grew into manhood.”
Vick now wants to discourage others from making the same mistakes about animal cruelty, and that certainly includes cockfighting. Calling Alabama’s $50 maximum penalty the “weakest” in the nation, Vick called for stiffer sentences.
Cockfighting is like an old-fashioned duel, but there’s certainly no honor involved, and roosters are the combatants. With razor sharp blades attached to their legs, the roosters head into an arena, where they fight to the death. The crowd gathers, placing bets and cheering them on. Some people even bring their kids. It’s enough to make you sick.
Cockfighting is illegal in the United States, and a felony in 39 states, but this chart shows that it is a misdemeanor in Alabama, with penalties ranging from $20 to $50. In contrast, in Oregon, for example, cockfighting is a Class C felony, with a maximum sentence of five years, and a maximum fine of $125,00.
The problem extends beyond the well-being of the birds. Sacramento Animal Control Officer Ruben Hernandez warns that roosters move from location to location in order to avoid detection, and that ”this movement of birds can spread diseases such as Avian Flu, which can jump to humans.”
Whether you believe in Vick’s rehabilitation or not isn’t the issue. The real issue is that cockfighting is evil, and requires severe punishment.