DogTown equals dollar signs at an inmate's expense

Last year this time, people from all over the country, particularly in metro Atlanta, were engaged in a heated debate over Michael Vick's involvement with a dogfighting ring at his home in rural Virginia.

The southpaw quarterback, who served as the unofficial mayor of the city until his controversial fall from grace, started out as the star of the sports section but quickly took over the front page as his legacy was transformed from iconic hero to convicted felon.

Although the metro area will never fully recover from the whole ordeal, I thought this story would somewhat be put to bed following his sentencing, the hiring of a new head coach and the first-round draft selection of quarterback Matt Ryan.

However, with the onset of a new year and the potential of a season opening television blackout, the Vick saga has once again gained new life, but with a twist that caught me off guard like a blindside sack.

Beginning on Friday, the National Geographic Channel will present a new series titled DogTown: Saving the Michael Vick Dogs, which chronicles the recovery and rehab of four canines rescued from Vick's Bad Newz Kennels.

DogTown is a spacious shelter in Utah that specalizes in treating all types of ailing animals.

While the veterinarian staff at DogTown worked tirelessly with these dogs had the best intentions, I can't help but be upset about the exploitation of this case by the network in the name of ratings and advertising revenue.

Yes, Vick's off-the-field actions were disgusting and deplorable.

I love animals and as the owner of a frisky Chihuahua, whose carefree speed often reminds me of a scrambling quarterback, I was extremely angered by the treatment of the dogs on his property.

But I don't need to revisit the horrific scenes from this ugly chapter, which will only pour more gasoline on an old flame that seemingly will never be extinguished.

This show, which presumably will draw a huge audience from its target 25 to 54-years-old demographic, is generating funds for the network and their investors at the expense of an inmate serving fed time.

Dogfighting is nothing new in the grand scheme of things. Animal control officers nationwide investigate scenes of this felonious behavior regularly with little to no attention by the media.

But because these four dogs were rescued from the home of a former multimillionaire superstar athlete, whose tangled web of deceit led to a coast-to-coast discussion on animal rights and race, their case is worthy of a primetime cable television series.

I am interested in a follow up feature about these dogs, but I don't see the need for a weekly series that at it's core was only given the green light for production because of Michael Vick's fame and infamy.

(Rory Shamrock is a sports writer for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached at rsharrock@news-daily.com)