Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Updated: May 16, 2:03 PM ET
Animal control officer confident Vick was at fights
ESPN.com news services
Michael Vick has said that he was rarely at the Virginia house he owned where officials have found evidence of dog fighting and that he never took part in the practice. Investigators don't agree.
Kathy Strouse, the animal control coordinator for the City of Chesapeake in Virginia which is investigating the case at the Smithfield home, told Yahoo.com on Tuesday she has spoken with individuals who can "put Vick on that property" during matches.
Saying she is "very confident" that Vick will be tied directly to the dog fighting on the property, Strouse has challenged Surry County Commonwealth attorney Gerald Poindexter to bring charges.
"He [Poindexter] was at the home and saw the equipment that we seized," Strouse said. "When we were there, he said he had enough right there to issue an indictment. He didn't say who he would indict, but he said he had enough.
"Now, with what he has said, it makes you think, 'What in the world is going on in Surry County?' This certainly doesn't make me feel warm and fuzzy about the Surry County attorney."
Strouse indicated that the individuals who place the Falcons quarterback at the scene have been reluctant to testify. In Virginia, dogfighting is a felony and punishable by up to five years in prison.
According to a report Wednesday on the Atlanta Journal Constitution's Web site, Poindexter will meet with Sheriff Harold Brown and investigators Monday to review evidence in the case.
A grand jury in Surry County is expected to convene Tuesday, but Poindexter told the newspaper it was unlikely a review of the evidence would be completed in time to submit it to the grand jury by Tuesday.
Poindexter has declined to reveal the status of the investigation or whether charges are likely.
"I don't try cases in the press," Poindexter told WVEC-TV, the ABC affiliate in Norfolk, Va. "Lawyers who do that are despicable.
"I'm not going to be a party to a witch hunt," Poindexter said, according to the Journal Constitution. "This [process] will not be driven by people who hate Michael Vick, love Michael Vick or people who love animals."
Police conducting a drug investigation at the end of April raided the Vick-owned house and reported finding dozens of dogs, some injured and emaciated. Investigators also discovered items associated with dog fighting, including veterinary supplies, blood-soaked carpeting, treadmills used for training and tools used to pry apart a dog's jaws.
When the story broke, Vick told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "I'm never at the house. I
left the house with my family members and my cousin. They just
haven't been doing the right thing."
Since that time, a Web site was discovered that showed Vick's name was being used to promote dog breeding that specialized in rare pit bull terriers and "the highly intelligent and powerful Presa Canario."
Vick has reportedly entered a contract to sell the house, but reports regarding his involvement in the operation keep surfacing.
Sports Illustrated reported on its Web site on Thursday that two friends of Vick said the QB knew about the dog fighting operation at the home. WAVY-TV in Norfolk reported that clerks at a store near the property said Vick bought items such as syringes typically used in dog fighting.
The Humane Society has told the NFL that past and present players say that the league has a serious problem with animal abuse.
Vick has now been advised by his attorney to stop talking publicly about the case.
"It is still under investigation, and once it is over, we will talk about it. As of right now, I cannot talk about the situation," Vick said.
Surry County, meanwhile, is being taxed by the investigation. WVEC reported on Tuesday that boarding the animals confiscated from Vick's property is costing the county $25,000.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.