By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 16, 2007 1:23 PM
Dozens of pit bull dogs removed from the rural home of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick will be spayed and neutered, implanted with microchips to help keep track of them and possibly placed for adoption, if a District Court agrees to a motion the U.S. attorney's office in Richmond filed yesterday.
The Richmond office also is asking that a law professor at Valparaiso University be appointed as a guardian-special master to oversee the disposition and possible placement of the dogs.
During a raid in April, authorities removed more than 60 dogs from Vick's Surry County property, where a dog-fighting operation was based. Forty-nine remain in government custody after testing by a team of dog behavioral experts assembled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. One was identified as a candidate for immediate euthanization after exhibiting what authorities termed "intense aggression to humans to the point where the evaluation could not be safely completed."
The motion filed yesterday acknowledged that the government could determine that additional dogs should be euthanized, but "further assessment and considerations of all placement options is the preferred case."
The motion asks U.S. District Judge Henry Hudson to appoint animal law expert Rebecca J. Huss to serve as guardian-special master. Before becoming a member of the law school faculty at Valparaiso University in Indiana, Huss practiced in two large firms and worked in the law department of a pharmaceutical company's animal health division. If appointed by the court, she has agreed to accept the appointment.
Vick and three co-defendants pleaded guilty to federal dog-fighting charges and are to be sentenced before the end of the year. They each face up to five years in prison. They also face state charges in Surry County.