Throw the Book at Vick

Studies show that animal torture can lead to much worse activity.

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U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson displayed great courage during Michael Vick's guilty plea in federal court, emphasizing that he is not bound by the prosecutors' recommendations to give Vick as short a prison sentence as 12 to 18 months for the Atlanta Falcon's now infamous dog-fighting, dog-torture, and dog-killing activities. Let's hope the judge keeps it up when he hands down the sentence. Federal guidelines allow him to impose a maximum of five years.

Is a year in prison really enough time given the cruelty, inhumanity, and outright insane behavior in which Vick not only took part but clearly subsidized with his huge NFL earnings? When prosecutors got a warrant to search Vick's home in Virginia where the dog-fighting ring was based, the warrant stated that an informant suggested authorities look for up to 30 dog carcasses buried on the property.

He devoted his palatial spread to the torture, killing, electrocution, and slaughter of dogs.

Most Americans love our dogs. But even for those among us who do not, the data now exist to prove that people who start torture on animals eventually end up visiting it on people. "Serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, and David 'Son of Sam' Berkowitz each got their start abusing innocent animals," notes the Salt Lake Tribune in an editorial.

Because the Vick case has received such widespread coverage, it is especially important to make an example out of him. Animal abusers and torturers should be made aware, just because they can make miserable a helpless dependent, does not mean they will remain free or get a token sentence.

I'm for imposing the full five-year term.

Next: What the states are doing.