Speech Following the Indictment of Michael Vick on Dog-fighting Charges

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Remarks Following the Indictment of Michael Vick on Dog-fighting Charges  (2007) 
by Robert C. Byrd
Delivered on 19 July 2007.
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Madame President, for several days, for several days, for several days, the news has been saturated with stories about the indictment of a well-known professional football player for running a dog-fighting operation.

I'm not going to comment on that particular case. The man has been accused. He has not been convicted. We must wait until all the facts are in and a verdict is rendered. The man cited in these recent new stories is innocent until proven guilty. Lord help him if he is proven to be guilty in a court of law. We must wait for the justice system to run its course.

But the facts are already in, and the verdict has already been delivered. What's it about? What is it about, Madame President? It is about the scourge of dog-fighting in the United States. Dog-fighting. Dog-fighting in the United States. According to the Humane Society, there are about 40,000 dog-fighting operations in the United States.

The deputy-manager of dog-fighting issues for the Humane Society, John Goodwin, points out, and I quote, John Goodwin, the deputy manager of dog-fighting issues for the Humane Society, John Goodwin points out and I quote, "Dog-fighting is at an epidemic level." Close-quote. In the United States. It involves urban areas as well as rural areas, it involves all sections of the country, it cuts across cultures and class and other socio- and economic differences. Dog-fighting continues even though all fifty states have laws on the books prohibiting dog-fighting. Dog-fighting is a federal crime. Let me say that again. Dog-fighting is a federal crime. And yet animal welfare officials report that dog-fighting is more popular today than ever.

Shame. Shame. Shame! Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars are often at stake in the breeding, the training, and the selling of fighting dogs. How inhuman! How dastardly!

Two dogs are placed in a pit and turned loose, turned loose, turned loose against each other. How inhuman, how cannibalistic, how sadistic! Let me read that again. Two dogs, two dogs. God created the dog...to be man's companion. Two dogs are placed in a pit. Think of that. Placed in a pit and turned loose against each other. And get this, the fight can go on for hours. The fight can go on for hours! Can you hear me? The fight can go on for hours!

The poor dogs literally bite and rip the flesh off one another and bets as high as fifty thousand dollars are placed. Bets as high as fifty thousand dollars are placed. The brutality goes on until one of the—of the poor dog died. Died, died! The dog died.

And for that reason, Mister President, dog-fighting is regarded as a blood sport. A blood sport. A blood sport. While bloody, Mister-Madame President, while bloody it is hardly a sport, hardly a sport. It is a brutal, sadistic event motivated by barbarism of the worst sort and cruelty of the worst, worst, worst sadistic kind. One is left wondering who are the real animals. Who are the real animals? Who are the real animals, the creatures inside the ring, or the creatures outside the ring?

The depravity of dog-fighting is also a multi-million dollar business that involves training innocent, innocent, innocent vulnerable creatures to kill, to kill, to kill and putting them in a ring to be killed or to kill for the entertainment and/or the profit of their owners and other spectators. Let me say Madame President I have seen one individual in my lifetime electrocuted in the electric chair in my time. It's not a, it's not a beautiful spectacle. But I can say, I could witness another one, if it witnesses—if it involves this cruel, sadistic, cannibalistic business of training innocent, vulnerable creatures to kill.

Undercover investigators who have infiltrated dog-fighting rings have found blood-soaked dogs with life-threatening injuries that are left to die as soon as they're no longer able to compete. Undercover investigators have found dogs with ripped ears, torn lips, genitals dangling from their bodies, eyes swollen shut, and faces riddled with punctures so severe that they were barely able to breathe. How inhuman! How inhuman, how sadistic!

Dogs who survive a fight often die days or even hours after the fight from blood loss, shock dehydration, exhaustion or infection. What a shame, what a shame, what a shame! If the losing dog survives the ordeal, get this, it is usually so mangled that it is no langer, no longer of any use and therefore it is put to death, put to death. I seen a human being put to death for killing another human being. But why put a poor dog, poor dog, poor dog. If the losing dog survives the ordeal it is usually so mangled that it is usually no longer of any use. How sad, sad, sad. It is put to death.

Even the winner of a dog-fight commonly suffers from massive bleeding, ruptured lungs, broken bones, or other life-threatening injuries. The training of these poor creatures, weigh those words, the training of these poor creatures, weigh them, the training of these poor creatures to turn themselves into fighting machines is simply barbaric, barbaric, BARBARIC! BARBARIC! Let that word resound from hill to hill, and from mountain to mountain, from valley to valley, across this broad land, barbaric, barbaric. May God help, those poor souls, who'd be so cruel. Barbaric! Hear me! Barbaric!

Such practices as starvation of the poor animal to encourage malice and beatings to build endurance are common. It involves teaching the dog to maul by using smaller animals such as cats or rabbits or small dogs as training bait. The results of this most cruel business reaches beyond the fighting ring itself. There are cases of dogs trained to kill that have broken loose and mauled human beings to death. It is reported that dog-fighters have often involved children in their bloody activities with severe damaging psychological impact. What a sin. What a sin! Studies have revealed that children exposed to dog-fighting activities develop a greater acceptance of aggressive activities and behavior. They are taught to believe that violence, violence is entertaining, and that it is okay to inflict the cruelties they have observed. Dog-fighting, reports the Houston Chronicle, simply breeds violence.

Mister President, as a dog owner, and a dog-lover, I can not even begin to understand how human beings can be so cruel to man's best friend. Over the centuries of time, these creatures of God have made a place in our hearts as well as in our homes. Dogs have endured as our devoted companions that provide important emotional support to humans. That the mere petting of these social creatures can lower blood pressure in humans. Get that, Madam President, that the mere petting of these social creatures can lower blood pressure in humans. The affection that a dog provides is unlimited, unqualified, and unconditional. Ever the loyal companion, dogs protect us, assist those of us with afflictions, and provide hours, hours, hours of enjoyable companionship. Therefore I take great satisfaction in knowing that if the people allegedly involved in this outrageous business are found guilty they will have to answer to our judicial system. And may God help their souls!

Congress has made it a federal crime to engage in dog-fighting. Madame President, God, God, the one eternal everlasting God made man caretaker of the earth. God gave man the responsibility of attending to the natural world with dominion over animal life. And we honor God when we treat all of his creatures responsibly and with decency and with respect. The book of Proverbs in the Holy Bible, King James Bible, tells us, "A righteous man regardeth the life of his beast but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel." The immortal Dante tells us the divine justice reserves special places in hell for certain categories of sinners.

Madame President, I am confident, Madame President I am confident that the hottest places in hell are reserved for the souls of sick and brutal people who hold God's creatures in such brutal and cruel contempt.

I yield the floor.

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it is a work of the United States federal government (see 17 U.S.C. 105).