Vick's bad timing lands him sentence from harsher law

Bill's Rants

December 11, 2007|By BILL ORDINE

In addition to exercising extremely poor judgment and brutal callousness, Michael Vick also happened to be guilty of exceptionally poor timing. When Virginia authorities raided his property last spring, a law just had kicked in that gave federal investigators latitude in pursuing dogfighting cases.

For anyone who cares about animals, this was a welcome departure from how the law previously had looked at animal cruelty. Years ago, I wrote an article about how show horses - jumpers - had been killed by their owners to collect insurance money. I won't go through the whole scheme of inflating the value of horses, but I interviewed a Florida investigator who described how state agents quietly had performed surveillance while horses were intentionally maimed and, of course, destroyed. But when these grisly crimes were committed in the 1990s, the penalty for insurance fraud was far more severe than for killing the animal. As a result, that was the crime - defrauding the insurers - many of the wrongdoers were essentially charged with.

It all stemmed from a general jurisprudence viewpoint that animals were literally things. The more recent laws that paved the way for the Vick prosecution show that that legal attitude thankfully has changed to one in which animals are at least seen as deserving protection.

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