SMITHFIELD, Va. -- Police conducting a drug investigation raided a Virginia house owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and found dozens of dogs, some injured and emaciated, as well as items associated with dog fighting, authorities said.
State Police Sgt. D.S. Carr said Vick's relative, Davon Boddie, 26, lives in the house. Vick owns the property, but does not live there and was not present when a search warrant was executed in a drug investigation Wednesday night, Carr said.
Boddie was arrested outside a nightclub by Hampton police April 20 on charges of distribution of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute. The search warrant was executed by a multijurisdictional task force in a narcotics probe, Carr said.
"When they had a chance to go to the site, they discovered animal neglect," Surry County Administrator Tyrone Franklin told WAVY-TV in Portsmouth.
More than 60 dogs were found in three buildings. Some appeared malnourished, scarred and injured, officials said.
Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, issued the following statement that read, in part: "We urge law enforcement to aggressively investigate this matter, and we further believe that anyone who harbors dogs for the purpose of fighting, deserves to be fully prosecuted for their crimes. Dog fighting is a barbaric activity that causes immense animal suffering and fosters violence in our communities.
"Our nation should have a zero tolerance policy for any form of staged animal fighting."
The Humane Society said dog fighting is illegal nationwide and a
felony in 48 states, including both Virginia and Georgia.
Vick refused comment Thursday through a Falcons spokesman, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Joel Segal, the quarterback's agent, and Larry Woodward, a Virginia attorney who has worked with both Vick and his younger brother, Marcus, didn't immediately return telephone messages from The Associated Press seeking comment.
The Surry County Sheriff's Office is handling the investigation of the dogs' treatment. The office said the deputy in charge of the investigation was at the scene and unavailable for comment Thursday.
The animal rights group PETA has asked Falcons owner Arthur Blank to suspend Vick pending the investigation and "to kick him off the team if it is found that dogs on Vick's property were neglected or used for fighting."
In a letter to Blank, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals said it was the second time it was writing to the owner about one of his players and allegations of cruelty to animals. On Feb. 23, the organization wrote to him about defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux's felony charges in Georgia stemming from the fatal beating of a dog.
The probe at Vick's property is the latest in a serious of embarrassing incidents for the Atlanta quarterback.
Last season, Vick flashed an obscene hand gesture to heckling
Atlanta fans as he walked off the field following a dismal loss to
New Orleans. He was fined $10,000 by the NFL and donated another
$10,000 to charity.
In January, security officers at Miami International Airport
seized a water bottle from Vick that they said smelled of marijuana
and had a hidden compartment. Authorities later said there were no
drugs in the bottle, and Vick explained that he used the secret
compartment to carry jewelry.
Just this week, Vick came under more criticism when he failed to show for a lobbying appearance on Capitol Hill in support of
increased funding for after-school programs. He missed a connecting
flight in Atlanta and didn't turn up for a later flight.
Vick and two other former Virginia Tech stars -- Falcons
cornerback DeAngelo Hall and former Buffalo Bills defensive end
Bruce Smith -- are scheduled to join Hokies football coach Frank Beamer and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a predraft ceremony in
New York on Saturday to honor the victims of the recent shooting at the Blacksburg school.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.