For weeks now, we've heard story after story on the news about Falcons' QB Michael Vick and allegations about his cruelty to animals. Today, it's official. Two of his co-defendants pled guilty and implicated Vick as one who tortured and killed dogs in connection with dogfighting.
According to Fox News, Vick and these men collectively "executed approximately 8 dogs that did not perform well in 'testing' sessions" at the alleged dogfighting compound on Vick's property "by various methods, including hanging and drowning."
Certainly, no one - especially a Christian - should turn a blind eye to acts of animal abuse. Proverbs 12:10 says, "A righteous man cares for the needs of his animal." According to the Old Testament, animals are to enjoy the same Sabbath rest as their owners (Exodus 20:10). When an ox or donkey was seen fallen on the road, the Israelites were supposed to help its owner get it to its feet (Deut. 22:4). There's also that well-known verse about making sure a work animal gets enough nourishment while it's working: "Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain" (Deut. 25:4, 1 Timothy 5:18). In Deut. 22:6-7, God even promises a long life to those who care for mother birds (even though He gives permission to take the baby bird or eggs for food).
Humans should take care of animals because God does, and we are created in His image. God "provides food for the raven when its young cry out and wander about for lack of food" (Job 38:41). Jesus taught us that God feeds the birds of the air (Matthew 6:26) and knows when a single sparrow falls to the ground (Matthew 10:29).
Nevertheless, there's something really wrong here.
Where are the news stories about the roughly one million human lives that end every year in America by abortion? How can the same Americans who are outraged about Michael Vick find it enjoyable to pay to see slasher movies and watch depictions of human torture and killing on film? How can the same states that outlaw dogfighting (and cockfighting and taking sea turtle eggs and killing endangered species, etc.) at the same time legalize physician-assisted suicide and let murderers (like Mary Winkler) go free?
For killing eight dogs, Vick could spend 5 years in prison and pay a $250,000 fine. Mary Winkler shot and killed her husband but spent just 5 months in a county jail, followed by 2 months of therapy for depression and PTSD. She's now back to work at the same dry cleaners where she was employed before the murder.
And don't forget about O. J. Simpson.
The same Scripture passage that says God knows when a sparrow falls to the ground, goes on to say that "you are worth more than many sparrows" (Matthew 10:31). Human life is qualitatively different from and superior to that of animals. We have a soul; animals do not. We are the image of God; animals are not. God gave human beings dominion over the animal world (Genesis 1:28). Animals are subject to, and inferior to, us. We can use them to make our work easier, we can train them to obey our orders, we can buy them and sell them, and - hold your breath - we can even eat them.
Our dominion over animals does NOT justify animal abuse in any form. However, we should mourn the loss and abuse of human life far more than we do the alleged crimes of Michael Vick.