Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Local firm takes on Vick controversy


Big Dog Sportswear, a Santa Barbara based company known for its witty apparel that often displays blunt messages, has released a new line of t-shirts that show admitted dogfight kingpin and NFL quarterback Michael Vick getting a taste of his own medicine by the Big Dog himself.
Four new graphics, one of which shows a crying Vick with his pants down being spanked by the Big Dog dressed in Uncle Sam attire, were created as a way to “bite back against Michael Vick,” according to a statement from Big Dog Holdings, Inc.

“We were all kind of appalled by [Vicks] acts as everyone was,” said Sean Toren, a marketing associate for Big Dog. “We’re a company of dog lovers and it kind of hit home for us and we thought we needed to make a statement about that.”
A portion of the proceeds from each shirt sold will be donated to charities that work to prevent dog abuse, the statement from the company said.
Another image shows Vick wrapped in a hot dog bun with the Big Dog preparing to take a bite. It is accompanied by the words “Hasta La Vista Vick!”
The third image portrays a frightened Vick clutching a football with the Big Dog’s paw swooping in to crush the quarterback, while the fourth image is a black and white drawing of Vick’s mug shot. Above Vick’s picture are the words: “Big Dog Public Enemy #1.”
Karen Lee Stevens, founder and president of ALL FOR ANIMALS, INC. and a pet columnist for this paper, said Vick’s plea of guilty to federal dogfighting charges has shined the spotlight on a rarely discussed topic.
“This may sound strange coming from an animal advocate,” Stevens said. “But I’m actually thankful to Michael Vick. In a very roundabout way, he’s done a big favor for animals. For years animal rights groups have attempted to shine the spotlight on the horrors of dog fighting and now because of the sports star’s major fumble, that has happened.”
Vick, who signed a $130 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons in 2004, was suspended indefinitely by the NFL after his written plea agreement was filed in court Friday, according the Associated Press.
The Falcons said they did not plan to cut Vick immediately.
Vick’s sentence is expected to be handed down on Dec. 10. Vick could be jailed for as little as one year or as much as five years, the Associated Press reported yesterday.
During a press conference on Monday, Vick apologized to the NFL, his team and his fans for his role in the dog fighting ring.
The Associated Press also reported that in his written plea, Vick admitted to helping kill as many as eight pit bulls and supplying money for gambling on the fights. He says he did not personally place any bets or receive any winnings.
“While everyone is appalled at Michael Vick’s actions, we at Big Dogs are particularly upset as most of our customers and employees are dog lovers,” a prepared statement by the company said. “We hope that people will wear these t-shirts as a reminder of Vick’s terrible acts and help to eliminate dog abuse and the brutal practice of dog fighting.”

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