Animal Legal Defense Fund Calls on NFL Players to Blow the Whistle on Dog Fighting Operations

Posted on May 22, 2007

Washington, D.C. - The Animal Legal Defense Fund sent a letter to Washington Redskins players Clinton Portis and Chris Samuels today, urging them to cooperate with local officials investigating crimes involving dog fighting, which are punishable by up to three years in jail. The letter came on the heels of widely-reported statements in which the two NFL players defended Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick, who is currently under investigation in Virginia for involvement in a large dog fighting operation.

In a television interview reported on by the Associated Press, Portis was quoted as saying about Vick, "I don’t know if he was fighting dogs or not. But it’s his property; it’s his dogs. If that’s what he wants to do, do it." He added, "I know a lot of back roads that got a dog fight if you want to go see it. But they’re not bothering those people because those people are not big names. I’m sure there’s some police got some dogs that are fighting them, some judges got dogs and everything else." ALDF is asking the players to provide local authorities with any information they may have about dog fighting activities and operations.

A copy of ALDF’s letter to the Redskins players follows:

May 22, 2007

Mr. Clinton Portis and Mr. Chris Samuels

Washington Redskins

c/o Washington Football, Inc.

21300 Redskin Park Dr

Ashburn, VA 20147

Dear Mr. Portis and Mr. Samuels:

On behalf of the national non-profit Animal Legal Defense Fund’s more than hundred thousand members, please allow me to clarify any of the now widely-publicized confusion you may have about the issue of dog fighting.

Recent statements made to the press suggest you may be unaware that dog fighting is, in fact, a serious crime and is regarded by our criminal justice system as such. Less than three weeks ago, in fact, President Bush signed a law giving felony status to activities that promote or encourage animal fighting. Dog fighting is banned throughout the United States, and perpetrators violating the new federal law may face up to three years in prison.

In publicly defending Michael Vick, who is under investigation for involvement in dog fighting, Mr. Portis alluded to the dog fighting activity in the rural back roads of his home state of Mississippi. We see you have now posted clarification on the Redskins website stating that you do not, in fact, condone the organized animal cruelty of watching dogs kill each other for sport. In order to truly demonstrate for football fans, animal lovers, and everyday law-abiding citizens alike your newly-stated distaste for the crime of dog fighting, why not take this opportunity to step forward and cooperate with Mississippi law enforcement so that they can fully investigate the dog fighting activity you refer to, allowing perpetrators to be punished to the fullest extent of the law?

As you stated, Mr. Portis, dogs are, according to the law, our “property.” This does not, however, give us the legal right to abuse them for cheap thrills–our law is crystal clear about that fact. Please demonstrate your respect for the law, the National Football League, and your many fans who are appalled by criminal animal cruelty and come forth with any information you may have about ongoing dog fighting activities.

Sincerely,

Scott Heiser, Director

Criminal Justice Program

cc: Mr. Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner