Michael Dwayne Vick was a renowned American football quarterback for 13 seasons and came to be considered the highest paid player in the National Football League (NFL) , and even transformed the quarterback position thanks to his running skills: He was the first quarterback in the league to rush for 1,000 yards in a season.
He began his career with the Atlanta Falcons in 2001 and during six seasons on that team he led the team to two playoffs, one division title and one NFC Championship game appearance.
His career came to a halt in 2007, when he was convicted for his involvement in a sprawling dogfighting ring and had to spend 21 months in federal prison, giving him further notoriety with the public.
The day police raided Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels in 2007, they found 49 pit bulls terrified, malnourished and others injured . Most were chained to the axles of old cars scattered across a lot in the Virginia state forests.
Investigators discovered at the site the buried remains of dozens of dogs that had been drowned or hanged , simply for not wanting to fight.
The Falcons quarterback and his associates built a fence along the side of the property so their activities wouldn’t be visible. They buried automobile axles with heavy chains , a common method of securing fighting dogs.
The men tested the dogs in fights, some were shot , some were electrocuted, and even those that did not perform well were left hanging.
“In or around April 2007… they executed approximately eight dogs that did not perform well in the ‘test’ sessions…using various methods, including hanging, drowning, and throwing the body of at least one dog to the ground “, according to the federal indictment.
In December 2007, the court sentenced him to prison and had to pay close to a million dollars for the care and rehabilitation of the 47 surviving pit bulls . One of the 49 died of health complications and another was actively euthanized because he was very aggressive.
“This is the first time on a federal level that dogs seized in an operation have been given this kind of second chance ,” Rebecca Huss, the guardian tasked with evaluating each of the rescued dogs, said at the time.
In December 2021, Frodo passed away, approximately 15 years old. He was the last of the dogs rescued from Vick’s kennel in 2007. All 47 were given up for adoption to dog rehabilitation organizations that have faced a troubled past and to some families.
“The last 14 years of [Frodo’s] life were spent being pampered like a prince with the Ramirez family,” the post read. “Sweet Frodo: how we loved him. He was one of the bravest survivors we have ever known”, indicated a message from the family that welcomed the dog.
Vick was released from prison and returned to the Atlanta team, which soon released him. He spent seven more seasons in the NFL and had to endure constant criticism from animal rights organizations, who asked the NFL to remove him from the Pro Bowl or All-Star game.
Over the years, the quarterback has cleaned up his image and became an animal rights activist with the Humane Society in 2009. He has since dedicated himself to the task of ending dog fighting once and for all.