Friday, September 05, 2008

life, documented: God Backwards Is Dog

If there is a God - and at this point in my life, I seriously doubt that there is - how can He (or She) explain the likes of Michael Vick and the animals at his notorious dogfighting compound?

I'm not talking about the four-legged animals that were routinely exposed to horrors there, but to the alleged humans that performed these horrors on innocent creatures - babies, really - on a daily basis.

The picture above is of Georgia, a female pit bull that was rescued from Vick's disgusting Bad Newz Kennels by members of Best Friends Animal Society, who are profiled tonight (at 9 p.m., est.) in Darcy Dennett's new documentary, "Saving the Michael Vick Dogs," airing as a two-hour episode of National Geographic's DogTown series.

Doesn't Georgia have wonderful, trusting eyes?

She was forcibly bred on a daily basis, with her tormentors using what Vick called "rape stands" to keep the females stationary while they were being... Well, you know. Georgia also had all of her teeth pulled, presumably by a professional vet (and reprehensible human being) so that she would not bite the males sexually mauling her.

Yes, the ugly idea of dogfighting is just the tip of a really treacherous iceberg. What precedes it is truly grotesque and has rarely been documented - until now. This is a story that even Oprah, an avowed dog-lover, ignored.

These poor, unsuspecting creatures, unlucky to be adopted by animal abusers, were enslaved and tormented 24/7 for their fights - in genuinely horrific training programs. I've always been rather disturbed by the arbitrariness of animals' fates - some end up as pampered pets, some as food. In the case of dogs, they can be fortunate enough to become someone's companion - Man's Best Friend - or arbitrarily (there's that word again) condemned as cheap cash cows for the greedy and inhumane.

The females, like Georgia, are literally bred to death producing puppies that are then (1) strapped onto treadmills for hours at a time, (2) conditioned to hate their own species, (3) starved for days at a time and (4) punished in unspeakable ways when they fail to "perform."

And other animals – cats, kittens, puppies and other dogs – are sacrificed as "training bait."

I think it’s safe to assume that these animals weren't cuddled or played with, or walked, brushed or even patted on the head. Instead, they have their ears cut off, probably while still conscious. And then, as we've read, they are "executed" via hanging, drowning, body slams and worse when they are no longer useful – i.e., profitable.

I can’t even begin to imagine the constant stress that all these animals experience during their short, sad lives. It still goes on - in other "kennels." And I truly believe these poor animals are driven insane by this treatment.

Dennett's documentary profiles Georgia and three other unfortunate, traumatized dogs that Best Friends is trying to rehabilitate.

The odd thing - what's so touching - is how forgiving these animals are, how gentle they are. I find it hard to wrap my mind around a God who would put these innocents at the mercy of thugs.

As Anita Gates points out in her excellent review in The New York Times today, it is unlikely that Vick needed the money brought in by this cruel, dubious business. He made millions tossing a ball. He had it made.

No, this is simply a matter of pure, mean-spirited cruelty for the sake of cruelty - cruelty almost gleefully executed. And that a black man, whose ancestors more than likely experienced approximately what Vick's dog endured, would participate in this torture is truly mind-blowing.

Vick, still serving his 23 months in prison, apologized to the kids he let down. He never bothered apologizing to the animals he casually abused.

So much for Man’s Best Friend, right?

Note in Passing: Check out the hugely affecting Peace for Dogs video. Sweet. Not at all graphic.

(Artwork: Two views of Georgia, saved from a life of forced breeding and other assorted daily cruelties in the documentary, "Saving the Michael Vick Dogs," presented as part of National geographic's "Dogtown" series; two dogs tear apart Vick - only in effigy unfortunately)


Dick said...

Saw it. I hope they never let Vick out of jail.

The tragedy is that when he does get out, some NFL team will hire him.

Jack B. said...

Michael Vick should have been sent to jail for the rest of his life. Like Dick says, the really sad part is that when he gets out of jail, some NFL team will go after him to be their QB. How sick is that?

Becky said...

Hey Joe,

I can only say hear hear to your review. I have been following the dogs closely since they were rescued from Vick's horrible compound. As the owner of a rescued pit bull, seeing the aftermath of such a horrific environment really crushes me. Watching Georgia with her stuffies, knowing her life prior to rescue was filled with death and horror, should bring anyone to tears.

Thank you for understanding the menace to society is not the pit bulls, but rather, the poor excuses for human beings that use them in such horrific ways.

If Vick should resume his career in some manner, I hope that everyone remembers the horror he was responsible for, and make sure no league benefits from his evil presence ever again.

joe baltake said...


Pit Bulls have been deominzed by an ignorant society that feeds the kind of thugs that abuse them.

veggiewoman said...

Those of us who live in South Jersey (I always say I love living here because it's close to an airport and a train station), are within 20 minutes of one of the worst pitbull fighting arenas on earth: Camden. I've been doing animal rescue there for about 15 years and I've become aware of how commonplace pitbull fighting (with all of the tortures associated with it) is in that tortured city. The police know all about it but do nothing -- partly because they're overwhelmed with drug problems and crimes against humans, so crimes against dogs (and cats, for that matter) are generally overlooked. Animal control is busy picking up abandoned animals, so no help there, either. And the pitbull-fighting people (I use that word loosely) usually do their dirty work in basements, so they're hard to find. But the money they make is as plentiful as drug money, so pitbull fighting in Camden (also Newark, Jersey City, Salem City) is routine these days. Pitbulls -- one of the most loyal breeds of dogs, and I've met several gentle, loving ones who had been treated with gentleness and love -- are suffering right now in these cities, and no one is doing anything about it.

Becky said...

Veggiewoman...I don't think your community is alone in the cruelty involved with pit bulls. I know things are grim out west, Oakland and L.A., as well as the remote areas. I hope that as more fight busts are publicized, the police and humane law enforcement steps up to help these dogs.

I thought I'd share a video link to a program HSUS is supporting that's near you.

j kaiser said...

It was in the mid to late eighties that pit-bull fearing first took root in the advice column of Anne Landers. All it took was one letter, then the rest started pouring in, news reports that demonized the breed and lawsuits soon followed.

If you think back, you'll remember that up until then, dobermans were breed to fear.

Soon enough someone attacked by a beagle will pop up on Oprah, and it will all start again.

joe baltake said...

We live in a country that's into instant demonization. I can live with it when it's a human in question. But I draw the line at animals. Free the pit bull!

Anna said...

Inside Edition also did something on this subject, about a dog named Leo. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

It's horrible what happened to those dogs, just for "sport". No punishment is good enough for these guys.

empathetic for animals said...

I would love to see a weekly show on TV about a group of people who get together and kill animal abusers, child molesters, rapists, serial killers. I think the show would get very high ratings. No one would do it of course, they would worry that people watching would also take the law into their own hands. It would be a vicarious thrill, but maybe it would also give abusers and killers food for thought.

Probably sounds extreme, but when I saw The Brave One, I must admit, it was nice to see horrible creeps get their just desserts.

I probably shouldn't say any of this, but when you spend a lifetime of hearing all the horribly cruel, awful things that junk people are capable of, I just don't care about them or their "rights" anymore.

joe baltake said...

As much as money has something to do with this "sport," I'm convinced that the real motivating factor is cruelty. We keep using the expression "human nature" as a way to excuse ourselves, but we do the worst things in the name of "human nature," cruelty to animals being one of them