Treading Softly . . . not!

Posted on 08/20/09 21 Comments

Wow after yesterday’s response I was thinking today I would cover medi-care, hand guns laws or perhaps abortion.  Thanks to everyone that wrote in on the sensitive topic. Apparent Alex Baldwin stated an opinion similar to mine recently and he too is feeling a bit of heat . . . not that I am looking for an opportunity to align myself with Alex Baldwin.

Just to clarify what I wrote, I am not condoning what Vick did, nor am I glorifying him as a role model for children, or minimizing the pain and suffering he inflicted on those dogs.  I am only saying if he had never gotten caught. the tragedy of fighting rings would never have gotten the exposure it is getting today. The way to eliminate the ugliness of Pit Bull fighting is by exposing it and keeping it in the eye of the public until people and resources can eliminate it. Vick’s re-appearance gives us a media opportunity that wasn’t otherwise there. Fighting rings have been around for years but passion like was shown on my blog yesterday was never publicly voiced so vehemently until Michael Vick acted like a boob.

As an optimist I am hoping Vick will actually contribute as he works with the Humane Society of the United States, being actively involved with his time and finances, working to put an end to dog fighting rings once and for all.  

If you haven’t done so, take the time to read all of the comments that were posted yesterday there are some very interesting perspectives and view points. Angela in particular brings up some engaging points. Did you know that  most pigs are electrocuted to “stun” them before they are killed for human consumption? Have you ever looked into the eyes of the  cattle or birds stuffed into those transport trailers riding down the highway on the way to slaughter? 

Do you think as a society have we just compartmentalized what animals it is okay to act savagely towards and those we need to protect?

 “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”.

Mahatma Gandhi.  

I am pretty sure the man was not referring to dogs and cats alone when he spoke these words.

Okay, if I have any readers left, I promise I will go back to dog training tomorrow.

Today I am grateful for everyone that feels so passionately about the welfare of animals.


  1. Joanne Rainger says:
    Sunday, August 30, 2009 at 10:42pm

    We must all die. But that I can save him from days of torture, that is what I feel as my great and ever new privilege. Pain is a more terrible lord of mankind that even death itself.

    Albert Schwitzer


  2. Hillary says:
    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 12:59pm

    Thanks for providing a broader context (i.e. the way we treat all animals, not just those who are our cherished companions) in which to discuss the Michael Vick case.

    As someone who works for the HSUS, I recognize that our organization’s decision to work with Vick as an anti-dogfighting spokesman is controversial, but I’m hopeful that it can lead to greater public awareness about this illegal activity. Strong enforcement of animal fighting laws is a big part of the solution, but we also need to be engaging populations of at-risk youth, not just preaching to the converted.

    Our End Dogfighting community outreach program – currently active in Atlanta and Chicago and expanding soon to Los Angeles – provides free pit bull training classes that emphasize positive reinforcement and healthy competitive outlets like agility. If you have any question about the bond many of these boys feel with their dogs, check out photos of teams from this program at


  3. Sophie says:
    Monday, August 24, 2009 at 12:00am

    So think about before you kill your next mosquito or put one more tick in the alcohol jar! Insects are animals.
    Just food for thoughts.


  4. Meghan Rosenstengel says:
    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 10:42pm

    > I was only posing a question about our society and wondering if there is
    > any feeling of hypocrisy to be crying cruelty on behalf of one animal
    > while eating another?

    Me personally? No. The same principles apply to our farm animals as to the dogs – holistically raised, not teaching with fear or pain and not attacking their sensitivities. But they are here for a purpose.

    Is killing in and of itself cruel? Or does it only matter *how* you kill? Does it matter why you kill? Does it matter how large or evolved the creature is you kill? No easy answers there!

    The problem in the commercial food production system stems from our separation from our food sources. If more people knew where their meat came from, there *would* be more vegans. But people don’t want to know. They know that if they knew, they would have to make changes and change is uncomfortable. Like people who don’t want to learn about puppy mills so they can keep buying their pet store puppies.

    I believe there is some meat that has a lower co-efficient of “savagery” than others and I try to consume from that end of the continuum. I still have not reconciled my eating out behavior. I think because I am removed from the preparation and don’t have to think about where that burger really came from.
    So I guess I do have some hypocrisy there and I’ll have to work on that.


  5. Andrea says:
    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 9:32am

    Hi Susan,

    For people who may want to know more about being a vegan ie ensuring proper nutrition etc. do you have any recommendations on websites or books as a starting place?


  6. Jill W says:
    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 7:20am

    Are the raw chicken necks you feed to your dogs born without heads, are they grown in soil?

    Just because plants do not have faces doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Plants have nervous systems. Plants have parents, siblings, mates and offspring.

    Organic life survives through the destruction and consumption of other life, regardless of what self-righteous hypocrites may or may not choose to believe on any given day.


  7. Jan V says:
    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 5:57am

    Just curious… but what do some of the vegans feed their “raw-fed” dogs? Are the dogs also vegan?


  8. Lizzi says:
    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 1:58am

    This is a very interesting blog! I love to read it, both when you are writing about dogtraining and other things. You are a big inspiration for me, both because you are an extremely good dog trainer and because you are a vegan. I am working on eliminating all the animal products in my diet and becoming just as good as you are at training animals.


  9. Rebecca Golatzki DVM says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:59pm

    I think that we need to differentiate between killing for survival (i.e. to eat) and killing for pleasure (i.e. sport). To me there is a VAST difference. Micheal Vick is truly a sadistic person to have done the things he did. You can argue all you want that it isn’t necessary to eat meat to survive, but it is nature’s way and no matter how hard you bang your head against the wall you cannot change the circle of life, whether you choose to participate or not (and just as an aside, I have NEVER had employees be sick as much as my most recent ones who are vegetarian! Give me a carnivore next time I’m hiring!).

    Personally, although I am a big football fan I don’t want to support the influx and acceptance of criminals of all sorts into the NFL. Micheal Vick is the one who offends me most personally, but we have a number of thugs that are being paid big bucks to entertain us. Until we step up and refuse to spend our entertainment dollars to support these criminals, they’ll continue to get big contracts. Dog fighting doesn’t just involve animal abuse, it also inevitably involves gambling, drugs and prostitution. Vick may have served his time, but I would like to see pressure from the general public to prevent him from going back unscathed to the high life. Everyone deserves a second chance; he can have his like any other common criminal working his way up, not starting back at the top.

    Color me cynical, but I’m a bit skeptical that Vick has in this short period of time seen the error of his ways and changed from a sociopath to a role model. Shortly before the whole dog fighting thing broke, I saw an interview with him and was disgusted with his attitude then- in a -team- sport where he was supposedly the team leader, he blamed all the failures on his team mates and failed to take any personal responsibility for any errors. I suspect that his core personality and responses towards the dog fighting issue will be no different.

    I also am not pleased with the attention and seeming legitimacy this throws on HSUS (NOT the American Humane Society, unless I am greatly mistaken). HSUS is a thinly veiled arm of PETA and their agenda will not do those of us who love our pets and enjoy competing with them any favors. But that’s a whole ‘nother bag of worms.


  10. jenn says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 8:41pm

    *If it would be illegal to raise cats and dogs in a factory farm environment, why for Heaven’s sake is it okay to treat other kinds of animals in that way

    Though I do believe that sometimes our “food” animals are put behind our pets, I would like to share an experince I had once with dealing with our local SPCA. There was a 4 month old puppy that lived next door that was being starved and abused daily. The owners left him there for days on end, tied outside with no food or water or shelter. We called the SPCA to report this and were promptly told that since the puppy was “above the age of 8 weeks” they would get to him as soon as they could but “it was not concidered a critical case”. Needless to say that with some coercion we got the dog and he now lives a happy life with us. When we recieved a phone call 3 weeks later to inquire about the status of the puppy, we told them that he was now in good hands. I asked why he was not concidered a critical case, and was told that all available “agents” were busy working on neglected cattle, sheep and other farm stock.

    I also live in an area that is home to several chicken and pig farms, and you would be surprised to find that those facilities are cleaner than your average fast food joint. There are strict health codes in place that govern those places, and there are people that Do inspect them. Unfortunate as it is, there are those few that fall between the cracks and are just horrible.

    So you see there are wings of our SPCA and Humane Societies that DO care about the treatment of our food, so please do not knock the hard working people behind the scenes. They are non profit organizations that have to make do with what they get, and if you want to help then please actually help with a donation, no just words on a blog.

    Your right Susan, it would be awesome if we could all be vegans. It would make life a whole lot easier 🙂 Again thanks for giving people the chance to discuss things in such a manner as this.


  11. Lisa says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 5:56pm

    “Do you think as a society have we just compartmentalized what animals it is okay to act savagely towards and those we need to protect?”

    Absolutely. I find it completely nonsensical that many of the laws that apply to the welfare of “pets” don’t apply to “food animals”. If it would be illegal to raise cats and dogs in a factory farm environment, why for Heaven’s sake is it okay to treat other kinds of animals in that way? …Because of the bottom line, the Almighty Dollar. Sickening.

    Okay, back to happy smiley easy peasy dog training! : )


    P.S. I was happily surprised when I read on your blog a while back that you are vegan! Awesome.


  12. Allison says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 5:25pm

    “Do you think as a society have we just compartmentalized what animals it is okay to act savagely towards and those we need to protect?”

    Well put. Good question. Thought-provoking. I think the answer is yes, absolutely, and it’s hypocritical in the extreme.


  13. JG says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 4:11pm

    If Vick had served time for animal cruelty, I would say he paid for his crime. But he did time for racketeering, not for animal cruelty. He got off scott-free on the cruelty charges.


  14. Helen King says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:59pm

    Thank you, Susan, for writing your thought provoking blogs.
    Having been a vegan for the past 20 plus years, you have said things I have only dared think.
    I think what Vick did was horrific. My heart breaks for those sweet dogs. My son’s Pit Bull is 15 years old and the sweetest dog on the planet. I think of her every time I read about dog fighting and how kind and loving she is to all other animals and my granddaughters. What a terrible rap this wonderful breed has gotten because of the morons who enjoy dog fighting at their expense.
    When I read of dogs tearing apart children I am so sad for the children and their families but I am also sad for the dogs. They are products of society, just as Michael Vick is a product of his upbringing. We forgive these dogs taught to be brutal but have a hard time forging somebody in our own species.
    Should all hunters have to go work with deer and elk at the zoo? Should anyone who chooses to eat animal flesh have to work in the slaughter houses? Should fishermen have their lips pierced with hooks and dragged around for a few hours? Why are dogs’ lives more sacred than cows or pigs or chickens’ or deer’s or (you fill in the blank)?
    My husband, Mel (also a 20 plus year vegan) and I live with 6 dogs. We adore them and we would fight to the death for any one of them and both think that Vick’s actions were FAR beyond cruel and disgusting!
    I do think, however, that those who are screaming against Vick’s forgiveness, while they gnaw on a hunk of flesh from KFC or baby back ribs or a hamburger or any other kind of murdered animal flesh, should think again about what happened to that poor creatures before they decided to make it dinner.

    Helen King
    Excuses Prevent Advancement


  15. Ann Hopp says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:40pm

    I read the very passionate replies to yesterday’s blog and can feel the pain from here. I subscribe to Glasser and Ellis and their definition of rational thinking-if the thinking leads you to get what you want without hurting yourself or anyone else then it is rational. That doesn’t meant that it can’t hurt or cause us remorse or pain. But trying to make a man pay beyond what our society doles out is fruitless. I teach emotionally disturbed children and does anyone for a moment think that the well being of the children I teach is worth more than a ticket to a sporting event? Or that a child being abused is of no import unless you can see physical bruises? There are many, many inequities in our society and there will continue to be. For me, the best course of action is to be a part of the changes that I want to see and to think and act rationally.


  16. Julie W. says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 12:15pm

    Thank you Susan for being an optimist. I think if as dog trainers we have faith in ours dogs that they can learn and change, we need to hold out the same for humans.


  17. Meghan Rosenstengel says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 11:26am

    What Michael Vick did to those dogs was cruel and it isn’t much better for millions of factory farmed animals. We choose to raise our own meat or buy locally from growers we know give their animals a good life, a species appropriate diet and a humane death.

    I respect your choice to be a vegan but please don’t lump all meat-eaters together as heartless savages.


    • Susan says:
      Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 8:09pm

      Meghan I do not believe I called anyone a “heartless savage”. I try not to be a person that judges others. I was only posing a question about our society and wondering if there is any feeling of hypocrisy to be crying cruelty on behalf of one animal while eating another? I would love it if the world was filled with only vegans, but I know the way to get there isn’t by presenting a holier-than-thou attitude.


  18. Julie Jenkins says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:51am

    well said (today and yesterday’s posts).

    wouldn’t it be great if this whole fiasco could lead to stiffer penalties for all animal abusers, not just famous ones? almost 2 years in jail is an unheard of sentence for an animal abuser. it’s my hope that as a society, we take all the anger and vitriol and aim it at creating and enforcing animal cruelty laws everywhere.

    Julie J


  19. Sherry Moore says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 9:45am

    I can appreciate your views on the Vick subject. Another part of the story is, Vick paid his debt as required by law. I ask those that are so vehemently against him, where were you when we needed stricter laws on the books to make this offense more punishable in the courts.

    I am not a Vick fan, however, he has done his time and by law, is not required to do anything further. The fact that he is involved may be a publicity stunt but at least he is doing something. I only wish he had aligned himself with a better animal based organization, perhaps the actual organizations that took in his dogs to rehabilitate would have been a better choice??? Perhaps he just can’t make any of us happy.
    Sherry Moore


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