Huffman: Casting the first stone
Sports Editorial

Michael Vick, who was sent to prison for two years for operating an illegal dog ring at his home in Virginia, has served his time and is now looking for work.

Aside from the same back-and-forth arguments as to whether or not he should be allowed to play that have pervaded national sports coverage in the last few weeks, what I find interesting, as I did two years ago, is the extensive about of vitriol and anger that has been directed towards Vick and his crimes.

To an extent I feel like some of the anger and vitriol directed towards Vick has been a little hypocritical.

Just like every other columnist before has been obligated to do, I should mention my own abhorrence to what Vick allowed himself to be a part of. Dog fighting is a despicable act. Pit bulls are not naturally inclined to be fighters. If raised without abuse, it's really easy to bring up a pit bull to be a boisterous, loving dog that gets along with all people.

I should know, I have one.

What Vick did was horrific, there is no doubt about that, but there are so many other ways in which animals are being abused that no one seems to be as upset about.

As far as sports go, why haven't people gotten as worked up over dog racing or horse racing. Greyhounds and race horses suffer life spans that are remarkably shorter than their non-racing counterparts.

It is estimated that several thousand greyhounds are killed by the dog racing industry every year, between puppies killed for selective breeding, sickness, injury or finally "retirement" that comes from the barrel of a gun.

According to a story Ted Miller wrote for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, roughly 800 race horses die each year from injury, let alone health problems and "retirement."

Next time you visit the circus, just remember that there is a good chance those animals performing tricks that you're enjoying were mercilessly tortured into learning how to stand up on hind legs or kick a ball.

It isn't difficult at all to find covert videos online of elephants being tortured by members of the Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus.

Any time animals are being used for entertainment there is going to be torture and often murder.

But maybe you're opposed to racing animals and exploiting them in the circus. Does that mean your free of sin? probably not, myself included.

The problem with Vick is that he was able to look at dogs and view them as commodities rather than living creatures.

This is something almost everyone in America is guilty of.

Just think back to the last meal you ate.

How many of you regularly enjoy steak or chicken or even fish on your dinner plates?

According to compiled numbers from USDA reports, over 10 billion land-based animals are slaughtered each year to support America's love of meat.

We have a tendency to disassociate what we eat with where it comes from, much like Vick was able to disassociate funding a dog fighting ring with the victims he was leaving behind.

Considering the amount of suffering that our lifestyles can often enable without any of us even taking the time to care about the consequences, in a way, we're all Michael Vick.

Zack Huffman is a sports writer for The Daily. He can be reached at zhuffman@news-daily.com