The cover star is Sweet Jasmine, a pitbull rescued from Michael Vick’s property.
I don’t normally read Sports Illustrated but had to pick up the December 29, 2008 issue as the cover story was about the pitbulls rescued from Michael Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels.
I’ve been debating the issue of Michael Vick’s case with a sportswriter whose book I represent. His argument is that Vick was the victim of the inherent racism in the media. I countered that there are certainly victims in Vick’s case, but According to another sportswriter, Robert Lipsyte, “Somewhere between Jackie Robinson and Michael Vick, things got all fouled up. ‘Street cred’ became the anthem of the modern black athlete, this misguided notion that the only way to appeal to the young demographic of the sneaker-buying public was to adopt the negative attitudes of the thug life popularized by black hip-hop/gangster rappers. Vick…got hijacked, and we all let it happen. We let it happen by passively condoning this mess.”
As quoted in SI article, Donna Reynolds, the executive director of BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pitbulls) said, “Vick showed the worst of us, our bloodlust, but this rescue showed the best. I don’t think any of us thought it was possible to save these dogs—the government, the rescuers, the regular people—but we surprised ourselves.”
The article raises a difficult question about whether pit bulls trained for fighting can, and should, be rehabilitated; SI‘s writer, Jim Gorant poses the question “Was it worth the time and effort to save these 47 dogs when millions languish in shelters?”
According to PETA spokesman Dan Shannon, “The cruelty they’ve suffered is such that they can’t lead what anyone who loves dogs would consider a normal life. We feel it’s better that they have their suffering ended once and for all.” The SI article notes that The Humane Society of the U.S. also took the position that Vick’s pit bulls, like all dogs saved from fight rings, were beyond rehabilitation and that trying to save them was a misappropriation of time and money.
Considering how many animals out there on the streets and in shelters are in need of good homes, it isn’t too hard to understand the position these groups take. But in reading about Sweet Jasmine, Zippy, Jonny Justice, Leo, Lucas and Sweet Pea, I couldn’t help feeling that these dogs deserved a chance at a better life than what Vick and his accomplices had planned for them as fighters tearing each other up in the ring or being used as bait for training.
Care to discuss your thoughts?