Michael Vick joined with the Humane Society yesterday to condemn the Android app Dog Wars for its glorification of dogfighting, and to call for its removal. The game allows players to feed, water and train virtual dogs and then fight them against others.
Vick, once the NFL's highest-paid player, served 18 months in federal prison after being convicted of dogfighting charges. He's now a star quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles and is singing a very different tune about his former favorite pastime:
"I've come to learn the hard way that dogfighting is a dead-end street," he said in a statement posted on the Humane Society's website. "Now I am on the right side of this issue, and I think it's important to send the smart message to kids, and not glorify this form of animal cruelty, even in an Android app."
"Android should drop 'Dog Wars' from its online market and join the national movement to save dogs from this violent practice," Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle said in his statement.
A website where the app can be downloaded stresses that it is only a game, and scoffs at those who tie it to real-life animal-welfare issues. "Perhaps one day we will make gerbil wars or beta fish wars for people who can't understand fantasy role play games," it says.
But Pacelle says the game could actually be used as virtual training ground for would-be dogfighters.
Cue the debate about Vick's honesty, decency and rehabilitation (or lack thereof). Our take: Maybe he has really had a complete turnaround. Maybe he has a very ambitious PR team. Either way, if the Humane Society is right about how the app could be used, the effect of pulling it will be to save some dogs from being abused. And for people who care about animal welfare, whether the NFL star ended up on the "right side of this issue" out of concern for his own image or for man's best friend shouldn’t make an ounce of difference.
Read more at the Washington Post.
In other news: Mumia Abu-Jamal: Court Orders New Sentencing.