Letter to Commissioner Goodell | PDF
DogsBite.org - Prior to Michael Vick's reinstatement to the National Football League and in the wake of James Harrison's pet pit bull unleashing a violent attack on his 2-year old son and wife, DogsBite.org sent a letter to Commissioner Goodell1. We asked in our July 23 letter that the NFL take a stand against the ownership of pit bulls by its players or risk this prized All-American sport going to the "pits." We also asked that Vick address the issue of "status" in a series of Public Service Announcements to help prevent future attacks.
A Long History of Pit Bull Imagery
The history of the National Football League and pit bulls stretches back to the 1920's with the "Fighting Bulldogs" of Canton, Ohio. Pit bull imagery was arguably resurrected in 1985 after the success of the "Junkyard Dog Defense" used by the Chicago Bears. Since 2001, the NFL's association with pit bulls has led to increasing violence, including incidents with Michael Vick, James Harrison, Steve Foley, Jerome Mathis, Jonathan Babineaux, Tank Johnson, Joey Porter, LeShon Johnson and Thomas Hamner.
Dogfighting, however, is only part of the pit bull problem. The other part is status-seeking through trying to own the "baddest" dog on the block. Harrison, Foley and Porter each owned pit bulls that launched malicious attacks on innocent people and pets. Both dogfighting and status-seeking drive the proliferation of unstable pit bulls that wind up in our neighborhoods and city shelters. These often-volatile pit bulls, bred in backyards and black market venues, directly contribute to the alarming number of U.S. pit bull attacks.
In the 3-year period of 2006 to 2008 a pit bull killed an American every 21 days. During part of this period, Vick was socked away in federal prison.
Tough Men Do Not Need Tough Dogs
Earlier this year, the U.S. Army banned pit bulls and other dangerous dog breeds from U.S. privatized housing developments (40+ facilities) for the protection of children and family members. Shortly thereafter, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune adopted a similar policy. Camp Lejeune base commanding officer Col. Richard P. Flatau Jr. was explicit in his language regarding the new policy: "These specific breeds present an unreasonable risk to the health and safety of our residents and are therefore prohibited."
Over 65 U.S. military bases, which produce some of the toughest American men of all, have now taken a stand against the ownership of pit bulls.
It is time for the National Football League to do the same.
We stated in our letter to Commissioner Goodell that DogsBite.org does not support the reinstatement of Michael Vick unless the NFL takes a formal stance against the ownership of pit bulls by its players and once and for all severs "pit bull imagery" from the sport of American football. By taking such a stance, the National Football League has the opportunity to take a powerful leadership role in the prevention of dogfighting and future pit bull attacks, neither of which deserves table space intended for ice cream and apple pie.
07/21/09: ESPN's "Outside the Lines" Looks at Vick's Impact on Dogfighting
06/20/09: James Harrison's Pit Bull "Patron" is Up for Adoption Under New Breed Name
05/23/09: Steelers Linebacker James Harrison's Pit Bull Attacks His Son
05/25/09: Professional Athletes and Pit Bulls: Dogfighting, Abuse and Violent Attacks
04/22/09: Report: U.S. Dog Bite Fatalities January 2006 to December 2008
04/18/09: Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Bans Dangerous Dog Breeds
03/17/09: U.S. Army Adopts Breed Restriction Policy for RCI Privatized Housing