Case Study: Break The Behavior Chain
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One bad harvest made all the more likely by the ravages of climate change or a sudden decline in the commodity price of coffee can drop them below subsistence to hunger. Even in good times, growers have little incentive to improve their operation — they have minor contact with the roasters or customers and no knowledge of how their crops get translated into the cup. This disadvantages not only the grower but also the consumer — coffee sourced from good quality beans is hard to find. Growers with better knowledge of the market will work to improve their crops or experiment with new varieties. Roasters and preparers will educate their customers as to the qualities of various beans, roasts and preparations.
Customers, in turn, will be willing to pay more for the best beans and that premium will be sent back up the chain to pay for even more quality and variety. And so on. Certainly there have been some positive signs. The first wave is said to have occurred when Maxwell House and Folgers made coffee a mass commodity, the second wave when Starbucks initiated a move to quality and higher prices. Specialty coffee roasters had worked to build cafes and brands around origin-based beans sold directly to the roasters without reference to the commodity prices of coffee.
With these third-wave roasters, every coffee came with a story of its origins and growers could count on occasionally eye-popping premiums for their beans. As yet, specialty coffee represented a small sliver of the overall market and there were other signs that it might not ever grow beyond a small circle. New trends like coffee-based drinks and single-portion coffee in pods e. K-cups, Nespresso actually shifted more of the value-added towards roasters without a premium for growers. A consolidation was taking place among mass roasters that was even sweeping-up third-wave roasters in its wake. Observers argued that could lead to greater uniformity with even less emphasis on origin-based, direct-traded coffee. Each is a felony charge with a maximum 5 year prison term.
The grand jury declined to bring eight possible additional counts of animal cruelty against the s. The following is an excerpt from a news article describing the charges :. A team of animal behavior experts selected by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals analyzed the 49 seized dogs and then recommended whether they were suitable either to be adopted by families, trained as police dogs, placed in a sanctuary, or should be euthanized. Only one dog was recommended for euthanasia because of extreme aggression.
The others were deemed suitable to go to sanctuaries or foster homes for socialization training. Even after pleading guilty to the federal charges, Vick had not admitted to hands-on participation in the killing of poorly performing dogs. An FBI agent questioned Vick for five hours and gave him a polygraph test that indicated he was lying. Vick finally admitted to killing two dogs. According to Assistant U. I dropped the dog. The U. District Court appointed Rebecca J.
Per her recommendation, the dogs were eventually dispersed to eight rescue organizations for adoption, rehabilitation or lifetime care in sanctuaries, where they have been neutered. Writer Jim Gorant described the assessment of the dogs:. Fewer than a dozen of the dogs were hardened fighters. Two had to be put down—one was excessively violent and the other was suffering from an irreparable injury. Another group seemed to be dogs of relatively friendly normal temperament who simply had never been socialized. Vick had also lied to investigators about testing positive for marijuana in September, a violation of the terms of his release on bail.
A probation officer, who did not believe Vick had accepted responsibility, recommended an enhanced sentencing range of between 18 months and two years in prison. District Judge Henry E. Vick is scheduled to be released from federal prison July 20, Peace, Phillips and Taylor all pled guilty to the same charge earlier in the year. Peace was sentenced to 18 months prison and Phillips to 21 months prison. A few days later, Tony Taylor was sentenced. Since Taylor had been the first co-conspirator to plead guilty and had provided investigators with details of the dogfighting operation, the prosecutor had recommended that Taylor only serve probation.
In October he had pled guilty to conspiracy to travel in interstate commerce and to aiding in illegal gambling and to sponsoring a dog in animal fighting. He had cooperated with the federal investigation. A New York Times article followed up on the lives of several of the dogs who were transported to Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary. This excerpt describes a dog named Georgia:. A quick survey of Georgia, a caramel-colored pit bull mix with cropped ears and soulful brown eyes, offers a road map to a difficult life. Her tongue juts from the left side of her mouth because her jaw, once broken, healed at an awkward angle.
Her tail zigzags. Scars from puncture wounds on her face, legs and torso reveal that she was a fighter. Her misshapen, dangling teats show that she might have been such a successful, vicious competitor that she was forcibly bred, her new handlers suspect, again and again. But there is one haunting sign that Georgia might have endured the most abuse of any of the 47 surviving pit bulls seized last April from the property of the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in connection with an illegal dogfighting ring. Georgia has no teeth. All 42 of them were pried from her mouth, most likely to make certain she could not harm male dogs during forced breeding.
They wonder why she barks incessantly at her doghouse and what makes her roll her toys so obsessively that her nose is rubbed raw. Having those teeth extracted, Dr. McMillan and other vets said, must have been excruciating. Even with medication, dogs are in pain after losing one tooth, which may take more than an hour of digging, prying and leveling to pull. NPR news reported that Leo , a former Bad Newz dog, is now working as a therapy dog for cancer patients. Each defendant pled guilty to one felony count of dogfighting. Cruelty to animals charges were dropped. Upon resolving the state charges, Vick became eligible to complete his federal prison term in a halfway house, rather than remain in federal prison until his scheduled release date of July 20, He expects to be reinstated in the NFL.
After 18 months, Vick was released from federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas to spend the final two months of his sentence confined to his luxury home in Virginia. Vick agreed to speak to various community groups as part of an anti-dogfighting campaign organized by the Humane Society of the United States. Many of the dogs have been adopted into homes with children and other dogs. Some will live out their lives at Best Friends Animal Society. Legal Resource. Companion Animals Cases. Companion Animals. Updated December 15, Work Type Criminal Justice. Status Closed Case Study.
Next Step. The Michael Vick case illustrates many attributes common to the dozens of organized dogfighting cases the Animal Legal Defense Fund has seen over the years: The clandestine operation went undetected until law enforcement discovered it while investigating another crime. The dogfighting activity was violent and bloody. Dogs were methodically tested and poor performers executed. Illegal gambling was a major part of the operation. Shelters housing the seized dogs had to implement high security precautions. This case has several unusual aspects, too: The federal government brought charges this is extremely rare.