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November 24, 2010

Michael Vick Warns Youth Away From Dogfighting

by Martin Montorfano

Yesterday a seemingly odd couple took to the schools of New Haven, Connecticut to talk to kids about animal cruelty.

HSUS president and CEO Wayne Pacelle and the Philadelphia Eagles' Michael Vick—a man on the path to personal and professional redemption after his downfall from dogfighting—visited Pacelle's hometown.

There he delivered the message that dogfighting is a dead-end road that leads dogs to the grave and young men to prison.

Vick honored the commitment he made to Pacelle in a jail cell almost two years ago: to become an anti-violence advocate, helping with The HSUS' End Dogfighting campaign.

Tough questions

Pacelle and Vick addressed some 2,000 students at Hillhouse and Wilbur Cross High Schools and Fairhaven Middle School on the evils of dogfighting and the toll it takes on both people and animals. Between the visits, the two men shared their message with a much smaller, but decidedly more cynical, audience of reporters.

Not all the students who came to hear Vick were star-struck, either. He faced some equally tough questions during his presentations about the motives that led to his involvement in dogfighting. Vick grew up in a tough neighborhood in Newport News, Va., where he was exposed to the blood sport at a young age. There, he faced the same temptations and bad influences that confront these young people on a daily basis.

Sadness and pride

Vick relayed his own sadness at having to tell his own children that they can't get a dog because his probation prohibits him from owning dogs.

But, he told the kids, his mother's greatest pride comes not just from his accomplishments on the football field, but from the work he was doing right that moment: spreading a message of compassion to future generations.

Martin Montorfano is public relations manager for The HSUS.

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