Animal Rights

Michael Vick: Badd Newz Dog Fighting Case, The Untold Story

| by Denise A Justin

On April 27, 2007, an investigation of Badd Newz Kennel began which quickly revealed to the world the dark-secret side of Michael Vick—a world of bloody dog fights and brutal deaths of pit bulls raised and trained to fight in pits at his own Moonlight Road home in Surry County, Virginia.  

Badd Newz, the Untold Story of the Michael Vick Dog Fighting Case, is a riveting 164-page, book by Kathy Strouse, superintendent of the Chesapeake, Virginia, Police Department, Animal Control Unit, with Dog Angel, an enigmatic undercover investigator, and is a must-read for anyone who wants to know the real step-by-step investigative process of this case. 

 Kathy Strouse writes:

This book is the story of how the Michael Vick case was made, and the challenges investigators faced at every turn.  Those who love animals will learn about the tremendous courage and determination of those who dared to pit themselves against a man of fame and fortune.  It was the right thing to do—because cruelty to animals and dog fighting are despicable and brutal crimes no matter who commits them.  One particular and poetic irony stands out in this case.  It was a drug-sniffing dog that “hit on” the car driven by Michael Vick’s cousin, Davor Boddie in Hampton, Virginia on April 20, 2007.  That very night, the dominos began to fall in the Badd Newz Kennels’ brutal exploitation of innocent animals because of a dog!”

Four years have passed since Kathy Strouse received the call that a very new ACO (animal control officer) in Surry County was asking for assistance on a possible dog fighting case which took her to the Michael Vick residence on Moonlight Road.  Kathy has more than 26 years of animal care and control experience and is also a member of the Virginia Animal Fighting Task Force.  She and Dog Angel soon began the intense, challenging and exhausting investigation of Badd Newz Kennel and the players in Vick’s Badd Newz crew.  Her book traces not only the steps of the investigation but the life of Michael Vick from childhood to the day of his sentencing.

Dog Angel is an HSUS contract undercover operative who has infiltrated the secretive and violent world of dog fighting for over 35 years.  Using a wide array of disguises and a vast knowledge of the fight game gained from his own past and his personal experiences, his work has led to dog fighting arrests in over 40 states, and includes assisting the FBI, DEA, USDA and many other law-enforcement agencies with investigations and prosecutions.. No one was more suited to work with Kathy Strouse and local and federal officials in untangling the web of deception, violence and brutality woven through the Michael Vick operation.  

Badd Newz, the Untold Story is not just another compilation of comments and speculation about the Michael Vick investigation. It is Law and Order in reality. You experience the gruesome discoveries, the compassion for the animal victims, the exhilaration of success and the anxiety and agony of possibly losing the case, which would mean that the dogs would be released back to Michael Vick. 

The chapter, The Road Less Traveled, takes us into the world of open-entry animal shelters and the lives of those who dedicate themselves to the heart wrenching work of animal control and humane officers. This book dispels popular myths about “No Kill” and exposes the exploitive fundraising of some major groups that publicized “rescuing” the Vick dogs.

What others say about this book (excerpts from reviews)

J. P. Goodwin of HSUS writes:  “Very few people knew what really happened behind the scenes in the Michael Vick dog fighting case, until now…The authors lived this case. Kathy and "Dog Angel" know this case, and they give everything from a firsthand perspective. This is the ultimate insiders "tell all" book.”

G. Morton wrote:

“…. I had no real knowledge of dog fighting and just how disgusting this blood sport is…I challenge anyone who has ever loved a dog or been loved by one to read this bookand not feel anger for the despicable people involved. “Ms Strouse takes us inside of the investigation from the very first search that took place in Surry Virginia, to inside of the court room during Vicks sentencing. We get a look from the inside at just how far crooked city officials and prosecutors will go to line their own pockets and push their own agendas to help the guilty to evade justice just because of fame or wealth.This is a story not only of villains but of true heroes who put their careers and in some cases their very lives on the line in the pursuit of justice. Don't be afraid of this book if you are squeamish! Everything is handled very tastefully without unnecessary blood and gore…This book is not about going after someone because they are wealthy of famous; this book is about doing what is right regardless of the consequences. I must say I was touched by Ms Strouse's humanity and decency for all living creatures, even Michael Vick...”

What really happened at Badd Newz Kennels

Following are excerpts from one of the more-graphic descriptions in the book--accurately portraying the sadistic and morbid world of dog fighting and the sickness of those involved. It took place at Michael Vick’s Badd Newz kennels.  It  is hard to read, but remember that thousands of dogs are living this every day, and they can’t just “click” or turn a page and make it go away.

This is offered with the hope it will persuade anyone truly interested in ending this atavistic “blood sport” to read this book and become involved actively in more than just a debate:

“P-Funk, Q, and Ookie were disgusted.  The three…had been “rolling” or testing dogs to evaluate their potential as money-generating fighters.  Two by two, they dragged the eight prospects up the ladder to the second floor of the black painted building behind the large, graceful white mansion.  The entire upstairs room was a pit—a place where dogs are fought, sometimes to the death.  The interior of this room was also painted black, but the smears and stains of blood could still be seen and told a chilling story…

“Two by two P-Funks and Q forced the dogs to face each other holding them nose to nose.  They shoved them towards their opponent, preventing their escape until the dogs had no choice but to defend themselves.  None of the eight dogs sparked any real excitement in the men.  The ones that fought at all did so for only a few minutes before giving up.  A couple refused to fight at all…

“Only good fighting dogs were worth the food it took to keep them….Together the two men drowned two of the dogs in a five gallon bucket of water.  They hanged all but one of the others. ..The kennel dogs were forced to watch the brutal executions.  They had no escape.  The strangling dogs panicked, kicking and flailing as they fought against the noose that tightened, cutting off their air…

“One witness would later tell investigators that a red pit bull continued struggling against the noose that night, valiantly refusing to die.   Ookie became annoyed…Q would later admit that he grabbed one end of the dog; Ookie the other.  Together they slammed the dog onto the ground several times with such force they fractured its skill, neck and several ribs “.  (Ookie, aka Michael Dwayne Vick.) 

Life after Badd Newz

Michael Vick served 18 months of a 23-month sentence in federal prison for financing a dog fighting ring. He remains on probation for three years and is also under a three-year suspended sentence for a state dog fighting conviction. 

Vick regained his football career with the Philadelphia Eagles.  He has also become a spokesman against dog fighting for The Humane Society of the U.S., the same organization that pressed for thorough investigation and prosecution of his dog fighting activities.

On April 25, 2011, the four-year anniversary of the Badd Newz investigation, Michael Vick issued a statement against the "Dog Wars" app (aka KG Dog fighting) that teaches gamers how to feed, condition and fight pit bulls. He stated, “…I’m on the right side of this issue now.”

Many believe Vick is not really sorry about what he did, but just sorry he got caught.  According to his estranged stepfather, Michael has been fighting dogs since childhood.   Dog fighting (on the scale Michael Vick was involved) is an addiction, not just a pastime.  Has he truly left his lifelong passion for this “blood sport” behind him?

Only Michael Vick knows whether he is really on the "right side of this issue now" or whether he still struggles against a desire for the "high" of the match and the intoxication of power over life and death.

Michael Vick’s future?

Kathy Strouse and Dog Angel are the two people most responsible for changing Michael Vick's lifelong behavior pattern. In the Epilogue of Badd Newz, the Untold Story, Kathy writes,

“Dog Angel and I talked many times as Michael Vick neared the end of his incarceration. We talked of the ongoing debate about whether Vic should be allowed to play professional football again…Reports surfaced near the end of Vick’s sentence that he had been speaking with HSUS…about the possibility of making anti-dog fighting public service announcements. Some opposed this plan doubting Vicks’ sincerity. Dog Angel is of the opinion that it does not matter.  Whether he is sincere or not, if his words stop even one young person from becoming involved in dog fighting, it will be worth it…Vick may even come to believe the words he will say.”

My personal belief is that we must all hope Michael Vick stays “on the right side of this issue.”  The eyes and hearts of an entire generation of young men in the process of choosing their life pattern and developing their humane values are focused on him.