[08/05/08 - 10:18 AM]
Michael Vick's Dog-Fighting Drama Kicks Off New Animal Planet Series Animal Witness, Where Crime Stories Unfold from a Different Point of View
The one-hour special premieres Sunday, August 24 at 10:00/9:00c.

[via press release from Animal Planet]

Michael Vick's Dog-Fighting Drama Kicks Off New Animal Planet Series ANIMAL WITNESS, Where Crime Stories Unfold from a Different Point of View

-- New Special Reveals a Prominent Subculture in the Urban South --

-- Lead Investigator Bill Brinkman gives his First National Interview --

SILVER SPRING, Md., Aug. 5 -- Michael Vick was a marvel and a new prototype of quarterback when he entered the NFL in 2001. He was the number one NFL draft pick out of Virginia Tech and signed one of the richest contracts in NFL history, a 10-year deal for $130 million with the Atlanta Falcons, making him one of the NFL's highest paid players. His sponsors included Nike, Coca-Cola and Kraft. He had it all until it was revealed that Vick trained, fought and killed pit bulls in an illegal dog fighting circuit he financed.

In the kickoff to a brand new series ANIMAL WITNESS, Animal Planet presents THE MICHAEL VICK CASE, premiering Sunday, August 24, at 10 PM, a one-hour special that tells the full, wrenching story of the Michael Vick case. The investigative report gives an in-depth report on Michael Vick, the law enforcement officers who broke the case and the dogs who were traumatized in the horrific dog fighting scenario and their miraculous recovery.

In this special, Animal Planet exposes the brutal sport of dog fighting and spotlights the incredible rehabilitation of Vick's dogs under the care of some very dedicated dog lovers. Viewers will witness rare underground dog fighting videos and also see interviews with two of Vick's boyhood mentors. ANIMAL WITNESS: THE MICHAEL VICK CASE challenges the misconceptions about pit bulls and shows viewers that vicious, fighting dogs can be transformed into lovable family pets.

"It's imperative to bring viewers compelling TV that exposes a horrific issue like the Michael Vick case and highlights the aftermath of its investigation," says Marjorie Kaplan, general manager of Animal Planet Media. "Bringing to the forefront the entire case with firsthand accounts and rarely seen footage, Animal Planet hopes that this eye-opener has a strong impact on our audience and on dogs' lives."

In April 2007, what began as a routine drug investigation brought police to Michael Vick's Virginia home. When officers arrived on the scene, they found few drugs. Instead, the backyard was littered with stacks of dog cages, staked chains lying on the ground and 66 barking, snarling, angry canines. What ensued was an investigation and subsequent media frenzy centered on the Atlanta Falcons quarterback. It was soon revealed that the NFL's highest paid star, a role model for children and hero to his fans was actively involved in the gruesome blood sport of dog fighting, a felony in all 50 states.

ANIMAL WITNESS: THE MICHAEL VICK CASE follows the trail of lead investigator Bill Brinkman and the obstacles he faced in exposing one of America's biggest stars. For the first time on national television, Brinkman reveals an intimate account of the inner workings of the investigation. Coverage of Vick's response to the charges and his eventual fate illuminates the unprecedented flood of controversy that came with this case. Testimony ranging from Vick's hometown mentor to PETA representatives presents the widest perspective of the case ever documented.

The pit bulls abused by Vick and his associates for the cruel sport of dog fighting are central to ANIMAL WITNESS: THE MICHAEL VICK CASE. These dogs were trained to attack -- their true loving nature twisted and warped for vicious, illegal entertainment. Undercover work and investigative reporting reveal the hidden world of dog fighting, how it is managed and how it is able to escape the attention of state and federal authorities.

"Dog fighting really is an underground world. The professional fighters are very sophisticated, and they take great care to make sure law enforcement doesn't find out about it," says Annemarie Lucas, ASPCA investigator on the case and personality on Animal Planet's ANIMAL PRECINCT.

ANIMAL WITNESS: THE MICHAEL VICK CASE also showcases the volunteers who rescued and rehabilitated the dogs recovered from Vick's home. These people showed these down- and- out dogs so much care and love that many now live as pets. Some even are able to work as therapy dogs, providing companionship for the sick and elderly.

ANIMAL WITNESS: THE MICHAEL VICK CASE is a production of Towers Productions for Animal Planet. Jonathan Towers is the executive producer for Towers, and Dawn Sinsel is the executive producer for Animal Planet.

Animal Planet Media (APM), a multi-media business unit of Discovery Communications, is the world's only entertainment brand that immerses viewers in the full range of life in the animal kingdom with rich, deep content via multiple platforms and offers animal lovers and pet owners access to a centralized online, television and mobile community for immersive, engaging, high-quality entertainment, information and enrichment. APM consists of the Animal Planet television network, available in more than 93 million homes in the US; online assets http://www.animalplanet.com, the ultimate online destination for all things animal; the 24/7 broadband channel, Animal Planet Beyond; Petfinder.com, the #1 pet-related Web property globally that facilitates pet adoption; and other media platforms including a robust Video-on-Demand (VOD) service; mobile content; and merchandising extensions.

  [august 2008]  

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