RICHMOND, Va. -- More than 50 pit bulls seized from Michael Vick's property face a Thursday deadline to be claimed. If no one
comes forward, they could be euthanized.
Federal prosecutors filed court documents last month to condemn
53 pit bulls seized in April as part of the investigation into
dogfighting on the Vick's property. No one has claimed any of the
dogs, which are being held at several unspecified shelters in
eastern Virginia, the U.S. Attorney's office said Wednesday.
The civil complaint filed by federal prosecutors does not name
the Atlanta Falcons quarterback and is separate from the criminal
case against him. But it does state the pit bulls were part of the
dogfighting operation known as "Bad Newz Kennels," which Vick and
three cohorts are accused of operating.
Also included in the document are detailed allegations about the
nature of the animals' training regimen and the dogfights occurring
at Vick's property at 1915 Moonlight Road in Surry County.
The government filed three public civil forfeiture notices in a
Richmond newspaper to publicize the dogs' confiscation, and the
deadline for claims is 30 days after the appearance of the final
notice, filed July 24.
Federal prosecutors declined to comment Wednesday on the seized
dogs. Typically, when confiscated property goes unclaimed, the
government asks the court to have the items declared forfeited. In
this case, U.S. District Judge Henry E. Hudson will make the final
decision on the dogs' fate.
"There's no dispute over who owns the dogs," said Daphna
Nachminovitch, a spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment
of Animals. "Obviously this is not going to be a process where
someone steps forward and says, 'This is my dog, can I have her
back, please?' "
Though Hudson, who also is handling Vick's criminal case, will
determine what becomes of the pit bulls, Nachminovitch said that
it's likely that they will be euthanized because they're not
adoptable as pets.
"These dogs are a ticking time bomb," she said.
"Rehabilitating fighting dogs is not in the cards. It's widely
accepted that euthanasia is the most humane thing for them."
Vick, 27, said through a lawyer this week that he will plead
guilty to a federal charge of conspiracy to travel in interstate
commerce in aid of unlawful activities and conspiracy to sponsor a
dog in an animal fighting venture. He is scheduled to enter his
plea agreement Monday and could face up to five years in prison.
Three Vick associates have pleaded guilty to the conspiracy
charge and agreed to testify against him if the case went to trial.
They said Vick provided virtually all the gambling and operating
funds for the Bad Newz Kennels enterprise. Two of them also said
Vick participated in executing at least eight underperforming dogs
by various means, including drowning and hanging.
The locations of the shelters holding the dogs haven't been
disclosed out of concern that the animals could be stolen,
"They are a hot commodity in the world of dogfighting," she