A new documentary, The Champions, chronicling the lives of pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring, is receiving high praise this summer, from critics at festivals to folks at home on Netflix. The film focuses on the dogs and the animal groups that never gave up on them—even after bigger and richer groups did. The documentary’s website provides the following summary:
“All odds were stacked against the pit bulls rescued from NFL star quarterback Michael Vick’s notorious dogfighting ring. Forced to fight for their lives, they were considered so dangerous both PETA and the Humane Society of the United States wanted them euthanized. But no one could have predicted how the dogs would change the lives of those who risked everything to save them.”
Interesting. The two best-known animal protection groups, with “Ethical” and “Humane” in their names, wanted the dogs dead.
We can’t be that surprised about PETA because it kills healthy animals all the time. No controversy there. HSUS’s case, however, is worth revisiting since people seem to seldom remember how slimy it can be.
For those who don’t remember, Michael Vick and friends were indicted in July 2007 on charges related to an interstate dog fighting operation. HSUS pounced on the high-profile event for fundraising, asking for money “to help The Humane Society of the United States care for the dogs seized in the Michael Vick case.” Here’s a screenshot:
Yet less than two weeks later, The New York Times reported the dogs were being sheltered by the government. HSUS never had them, which means their promise— “Your gift will be put to use right away to care for these dogs” – was an unabashed abuse of animal misery and human compassion.
(In retrospect, it’s easy to see HSUS’s history of exploiting disasters and the people who just want to help animals. Haiti’s earthquake in 2010, Hurricane Sandy in 2013, or Oklahoma’s tornado in 2013, etc.)
Not only did The New York Times expose the scam, but reported the deadly change of plans. Rather than “care for these dogs,” CEO Wayne Pacelle admitted, “we have recommended to them [government authorities], and believe, they will be eventually put down.”
Let’s recap: HSUS never had Vick’s dogs, but manipulated people who wanted to help by promising to put donations toward helping the dogs. Instead, HSUS pushed to put the dogs down. Perhaps it’s no wonder that The Bleacher Report states in its own new documentary about Vick, released this week, that HSUS declined to participate in the film “despite repeated requests.”
We bet if you put Pacelle on a trawler next to a pile of eels, it’d be tough to say who’s slimier.