No Vick-tory for Animals

Last week, Humane Society of the United States CEO Wayne Pacelle made yet another public appearance with convicted dogfighting kingpin Michael Vick. This time, the duo appeared on Capitol Hill to promote federal legislation. (HSUS does a lot of lobbying, if you didn’t know.)

While HSUS teams up with Vick to promote a national bill, could a national spike in dogfighting be around the corner?

Let’s recap Vick’s post-prison timeline. According to the head of the ASPCA, Vick’s PR representatives initially approached his organization to try to form an anti-dogfighting alliance. The ASPCA didn’t want anything to do with partnering with Vick due to his heinous crimes. HSUS agreed, however, and Vick became a sort of HSUS “ambassador.”

Despite Vick’s many HSUS-sponsored public appearances to speak out against dogfighting since then, it has apparently become “cool” to fight dogs in Philadelphia. According to CBS News, here’s the total number of animal-fighting investigations performed by the Pennsylvania SPCA over the last three years. Vick joined the Philadelphia Eagles in mid-2009:

2008: 237 investigations

2009: 836 investigations

2010: 1,177 investigations

Compared with 2008, 2009 saw an uptick of over 250 percent. And 2010 saw an increase of nearly 400 percent compared to 2008. Most of these investigations were dogfighting cases in Philadelphia.

Commenting on the 2009 spike in investigations, PSCPA’s Director of Law Enforcement said it wasn’t just an increase in reporting and awareness, but that “there also has been an increase in actual dogfighting.” (Emphasis ours.)

Meanwhile, HSUS campaigner J.P. Goodwin (a former Animal Liberation Front “spokesman”) claimed last year that he “thinks dogfighting has subsided nationally since the Vick case surfaced.”

That may have been true after Vick went to prison but before he signed with the Eagles. But what about now that Vick has recently signed endorsement contracts with Nike and other major companies?

If Philadelphia is any indication, we could see a huge uptick in dogfighting nationally as Vick becomes “cool” again, this time outside of the City of Brotherly Love. And all of that could be traced to HSUS’s initial rehabilitation of Vick’s public image following his release from prison.

One way or the other, the biggest loser so far of the Vick-HSUS alliance appears to the animals.