About Us

As Curtain Comes Down on Michael Vick Case With Final Sentencing Hearing, ASPCA Releases Names of Behavior Evaluations Team, Thanks All Involved

January 25, 2008

NEW YORK, January 25, 2008—With today’s sentencing hearing in Richmond, Va., of dogfighter Oscar E. Allen, who pleaded guilty in October 2007 to the same dogfighting conspiracy charge as suspended NFL quarterback Michael Vick and his other co-defendants, the curtain comes down on one of the most talked-about stories of 2007; one that shone a spotlight on the brutal blood sport of dogfighting.

“This was one of those moments in time when the involvement of an extremely high-profile celebrity in a horrific act prompted universal public outrage and condemnation,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “But the good news to come out of this, as we know, was that almost all the dogs that were seized from the property were saved and have a second chance at living a fulfilled life—a rare outcome in cases such as this.”

The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) worked closely with federal authorities at every step of the case, first assisting in the investigation itself through the involvement of Dr. Melinda Merck, forensic veterinarian with the ASPCA, and later when Dr. Stephen Zawistowski, CAAB, executive vice president, National Programs for the ASPCA, led a team of several Certified Applied Animal Behaviorists (trained animal behavior experts who have been certified by the Animal Behavior Society) in the behavior evaluations of the seized dogs.

“The ASPCA, which was founded to fight cruelty almost 142 years ago, has been honored by the trust placed in us by federal authorities throughout this case,” said ASPCA President & CEO Ed Sayres. “More than anything, I am extremely proud of the dedication and collaboration demonstrated by the behaviorists who evaluated the dogs—they are a remarkable group of people.”

In addition to Dr. Zawistowski, the evaluation team comprised the following: Dr. Randall Lockwood, CAAB, senior vice president, Anti-Cruelty Initiatives and Legislative Services, ASPCA; Dr. Pamela J. Reid, CAAB, vice president, Animal Behavior Center, ASPCA; Dr. Daniel Q. Estep, CAAB, of Animal Behavior Associates, Littleton, Colo.; Dr. Crista Coppola, CAAB, of Tucson, Ariz.; and Nancy Williams, Associate CAAB, of Manchester, Md.

In addition, BAD RAP (Bay Area Doglovers Responsible About Pit Bulls), a San Francisco-based non profit organization that is an educational resource for pit bull owners and the shelters that house them, also worked with the ASPCA-led team to help identify dogs that could be absorbed into experienced foster programs for further observation and possible re-homing into appropriate homes. BAD RAP was represented on the evaluation team by co-founders Tim Racer and Donna Reynolds. Finally, Justin Phillips, shelter supervisor/behavior supervisor of the SPCA of Monterey County, Calif., was also part of the BAD RAP team.

For more information on the ASPCA, or to learn more about staying alert to animal cruelty, please visit http://www.fightcruelty.org/.