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Interest of Amici Curiae


In the Michael Vick case, Amici are organizations concerned about animal welfare and responsible dog ownership.


July 2010




The Amicus brief speaks for the voiceless victims of the defendant’s criminal conduct and in that way seeks to assist the court in imposing a just and fair sentence.  The Victim impact statement is submitted on behalf of the 54 American Pit Bull terriers seized from the Bad Newz Kennels and for those dogs which were brutally slaughtered by Vick and his cohorts.   The brief includes a description of the systematic abuse and torture which is inherent to the business of dogfighting as well as the collateral effects of dogfighting which criminalizes a noble breed of dog and tarnishes the reputation of responsible pit bull owners everywhere.


In addition, amici offer an alternative to killing those victims which survived the defendants’ cruelty.  Accordingly, offered for the court’s consideration is a process to conduct assessments to determine which of the survivors can be saved and a plan to place as many dogs as possible in specialized care where they can be rehabilitated and to provide sanctuary and special care for those who have any potential quality of life.   To this end, the amicus brief includes a demand for restitution to cover the cost of assessment and rehabilitation.


Finally, Amici seek to provide the court with a sentencing recommendation which urges the Court to impose either an upward departure consistent with the United States Sentencing Guidelines or to impose a non-guideline sentence within the statutory maximum consistent with 18 U.S.C. §3553 which adequately reflects the abhorrent nature of the defendant’s conduct and serves as a deterrent to others.  In addition, the court is urged to impose the maximum statutory fine to be used for education of the public as to the evils of dogfighting and to dispel the myths which criminalize the victims instead of the perpetrators.


The work of a number of the amici is directly related to the atrocities which give rise to this lawsuit: it includes providing shelter and rehabilitation to abused and neglected animals in general.  Others have specialized expertise in the assessment and rehabilitation of dogs rescued from the fighting pits.   Other organizations are engaged in educational efforts to combat breed specific legislation and to promote responsible dog ownership.  Still others represent groups dedicated to the promotion of the American Pit Bull Terrier, once known as the all-American dog,  through programs focusing on  responsible breeding and training.


Amici organizations represent diverse groups and interests from the East Coast to California, from Oregon to Texas.  Yet all are united in this brief in a single purpose to speak for the voiceless victims of cruel world of dog fighting so that the sentence imposed on the defendants will truly hold them accountable for their conduct and to provide the victims redress.


Amici focus their attention in this brief on the importance of holding the defendant Vick accountable for the atrocities he financed and committed against these defenseless animals  Amici believe that this pending criminal action against Michael Vick and the other defendants named in the indictment  is a step towards justice for the thousands of dogs trapped in the hellish world of dogfighting.    It is hoped that this brief will provide the court with insight as to the suffering endured by the victims so as to impose sanctions stiff enough to discourage such atrocities from recurring.   Providing a means of redress is of singular importance to victims of this particular enterprise, because the truth is that having survived a life of brutality and unspeakable cruelty at the hands of those who gamble on their deaths,   betrayal and death await these dogs after they are rescued".    More than 90% of dogs rescued from fighting pits are summarily euthanized because the shelters to which they are entrusted have neither the expertise nor the resources to properly assess and rehabilitate dogs who have been used in dogfights.  Amici offer the court an alternative to this tragic end.


In addition, amici offer their insight in order to assist the court in understanding the impact of defendant’s conduct on all of the responsible owners of American Pit Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers.


Amici also seek to provide the court with an understanding of the defendant who will appear before the bench at sentencing in order to assist the court in imposing a just and fair sentence which adequately reflects the harm done by the defendant. To that end amici provides  a sentencing recommendation which urges the Court to impose either an upward departure consistent with the United States Sentencing Guidelines or to impose a non-guideline sentence within the statutory maximum consistent with 18 U.S.C. §3553.  In addition, the court is urged to enter an order of restitution and to impose the maximum statutory fine to be used for education of the public as to the evils of dogfighting and to dispel the myths which criminalize the victims instead of the perpetrators.   Finally, Amici seek an order dedicating the property identified as 1915 Moonlight Road, Smithfield as a shelter for neglected and abused animals.


Signatories are listed in alphabetical order, by the name of the organization:


The American Dog Owners’ Association (hereinafter “ADOA”) is a national organization which for the past 37 years has been dedicated to  protecting and defending the rights of responsible dog ownership; opposing detrimental and supporting appropriate regulations for dog owners; educating the public regarding responsible dog ownership and promoting standards for safe and civilized treatment of dogs.


American Working Dog Federation is a national organization whose purpose is to develop awareness in the United States about the crucial need to provide a broader base to represent the working dog throughout the world and to preserve and protect the heritage of our respective breeds in America.


The Animal Adoption Center is a no kill shelter in Lindenwold, New Jersey. The Animal Adoption Center has taken in dogs in need of rehabilitation ever since its inception more than 15 years ago, including Pit Bulls and other dogs used in dog fighting.   The Shelter has agreed to take in two of the dogs and to provide expert training and rehabilitation.


Best Friends Animal Society and Sanctuary runs the nation's largest sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals.  Located on 33,000  acres in Utah Best Friends Sanctuary provides shelter for approximately  1,500 dogs, cats and other animals who have come to the sanctuary for special care from shelters and rescue groups all across the country. Many are placed in new homes and others find lifetime care here at the nation's largest sanctuary.  Best Friends has offered and continues to offer its resources to provide assessment and rehabilitation for the dogs seized from the Bad Newz Kennels.


The Cape Fear APBT Club has a membership drawn from the entire East Coast.  The Club is dedicated to promoting a positive image for the American Pit Bull Terrier, to combat breed specific legislation, to encourage intelligent breeding practices that accent the finest aspects of the breed such as loyalty, intelligence, adaptability, courage, heart and an affectionate disposition.  In addition, the Club is committed offering an alternative breed rescue program  in areas in which rescue organization do not place, but simply euthanize  American Pit Bull Terriers irrespective of health, disposition or age.


CHAKO (Coalition of Human Advocates for K9s & Owners) is a national Dog Owners' Education and Advocacy Group which lobbies in support of the rights of responsible dog owners of all breeds of dogs across the United States. CHAKO opposes breed specific legislation and discrimination. In addition CHAKO offers canine good citizen testing, educates the public about responsible dog ownership and promotes the rights of persons with disabilities to own and be accompanied by service dogs.


The Maryland Dog Federation is a statewide organization committed to presenting a balanced, rational approach to dog ownership; preserving the special, historic relationship between people and dogs; encouraging and promoting the welfare of dogs; promoting, protecting and defending the rights of responsible dog owners.


The National Animal Interest Alliance is a not-for-profit corporation organized for the purpose of promoting animal welfare, supporting responsible animal use and strengthening the bond between humans and animals.  Its members are pet owners, dog and cat clubs, obedience clubs and rescue groups as well as breeders, trainers, veterinarians, research scientists, farmers, fishermen, hunters and wildlife biologists. The membership roster of NAIA includes some of America's most respected animal professionals, advocates and enthusiasts


The National American Pit Bull Terrier Association is a national association whose purpose is to encourage and promote responsible breeding and ownership of American Pit Bull Terriers so as to enhance the qualities of the American Pit Bull Terrier, to present the American Pit Bull Terrier to the public in a positive light, to educate and make known to the public the high standard of excellence of the United Kennel Club, Inc. registered American Pit Bull Terrier.


The Real Pit Bull Foundation for Advocacy and Rescue has as its purpose  to act on behalf of the American Pit Bull Terrier) by  educating the public, humane/rescue workers, and others;  rescuing when possible abused and neglected Pit Bulls, combating animal abuse and fighting breed specific legislation.


Spindletop Refuge located in Houston Texas, has for the past 18 years been dedicated to the successful rehabilitation and rehoming of homeless, abused and neglected dogs for over eighteen years, specializing in the American Pit Bull Terriers and American Staffordshire Terriers.  Leah Purcell has been qualified as an expert witness on the breed in several court cases and courts nationwide have entrusted the care of seized dogs to Spindletop. Spindletop has extensive experience in retraining, rehabilitating, and rehoming former fighting dogs and abuse cases. Spindletop has successfully rehabilitated more than 200 fighting dogs referred from shelters and by the courts.    Several of the court ordered fighting dogs have gone on to earn titles in Agility and Obedience. They are loving family members and great ambassadors for the breed. Spindletop is  the National Rescue for the National American Pit Bull Terrier Association, the parent club for the breed in the United Kennel Club.   Spindletop has offered to take 5-10 of the dogs for rehabilitation.


Worthy Companions Domestic Animal Rescue is a New Jersey based rescue group specializing in dogs who need medical or behavioral rehabilitation before being placed in loving, competent permanent homes. All of the associates of Worthy Companions have both personal and professional experience with Pit Bulls, own their own Pit Bulls and/or Pit mixes and have a special interest to promotion of the  breed and to responsible dog ownership.


Related Articles and Information on Michael Vick;

Michael Vick's arraignment and Plea          Michael Vick Full Amicus Brief

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