FACT CHECK: Does This Photo Show A Dog Former NFL Player Michael Vick Abused?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook more than 40,000 times purportedly shows a pit bull disfigured by former NFL quarterback Michael Vick.

Verdict: False

The photo, taken in 2009, actually shows a pit bull that was rescued from a Missouri dogfighting operation two years after Vick pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting-related charges. Its disfigurement and abuse was not related to Vick, according to the photographer.

Fact Check:

Vick, a former NFL quarterback, pleaded guilty to federal and state charges in a dogfighting investigation in 2007 and 2008, respectively. He was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison but got released early, according to ESPN.

The viral Facebook post allegedly shows a pit bull that Vick disfigured for dogfighting purposes. The image has been shared more than 40,000 times. (RELATED: Did Jimmy Fallon Say, ‘Lindsey Graham Is The Closest Thing Trump Has Come To Owning A Dog’?)

“Just Incase (sic) you forgot, Michael Vick removed this dog’s lips to make him look more aggressive to other dogs,” reads the caption. “He murdered 250+ dogs for entertainment and profit. So next time you say ‘he did his time he’s an NFL hero,’ or ‘it was part of his upbringing or culture’ I want you to really think carefully before you say it around me.”

Through a reverse image search, the Daily Caller discovered that Mike Bizelli, a St. Louis-based photographer, took the photo in July 2009. Rescuers removed the female pit bull, Fay, from a property near Hannibal, Missouri, during one of the largest dogfighting busts in history, according to Bizelli.

“This is two years past the Vick case,” Bizelli told the Caller in an email. “Vick had nothing to do with Fay.”

According to his 2007 federal plea agreement, Vick does not appear to have participated in any dogfighting activities in Missouri. He participated in dogfighting-related activities in Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Alabama, New York and New Jersey.

It’s unclear how many dogs died during his Virginia-based Bad Newz Kennels’ operation but, according to Vick’s federal plea agreement, Vick or his associates executed at least 15 dogs. Authorities rescued 47 dogs from the property in 2007, reported the Washington Post.

Dogs Deserve Better, an animal welfare nonprofit, purchased Vick’s property in 2011, turning it into a rehabilitation center for abused and neglected canines, according to its website.

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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