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Michael Vick's Butler Appearance—'Disgusting' to Some—to Benefit Tri-Boro Animal Shelter

Business owners, residents react to controversial professional football player coming to borough.

As tri-boro residents and business owners have criticized this week's announcement of controversial NFL quarterback Michael Vick's  in Butler, the card store's owner said Thursday he will donate a portion of the day's proceeds to a yet-to-be-determined national organization that combats dogfighting, as well as the Tri-boro Animal Shelter.

 owner Jeff Robbins plans to donate 5 percent of his sales on June 19. But President Cheryl Canale said she is not sure if the shelter will accept the donation, which she described as a "knee-jerk reaction" to some of the public's negative feelings about the event.

"I think donations are greatly appreciated," she said. "Would somebody think that it was tainted money? I don't know."

Canale said she was not comfortable commenting specifically on her thoughts of Vick coming to town.

"I don't feel comfortable making any kind of comment on this," she said. "I don't believe in dogfighting. Certainly, it's a terrible thing, but that's my personal opinion. I don't feel like I'm in a position to comment on somebody else's life."

Others have not shied away from expressing their feelings.

"It's disgusting," Dee Maharg, a Bloomingdale resident and Tri-boro Animal Welfare volunteer, said. "And I'll never frequent the shop that he's going to be at, now or ever."

Vick spent 18 months in prison after being convicted on charges of running a dogfighting operation. After he was released, he returned to the National Football League and is now a member of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Even though Robbins has received numerous calls to the store and even his cell phone criticizing Vick's expected appearance, he believes the NFL quarterback's autograph, which will start at $90, is highly sought by fans.

"He's the most desired autograph in all of sports right now," Robbins said Monday. "The No. 1 autograph that people want is Michael Vick. He came back last year and it was the first year that he was ever focused on football."

But while some choose to focus on Vick's accomplishments on the field, others cannot look past the animal mistreatment charges that sent him to prison.

"He's still sick, a sick person. If he's smart enough to play professional football and remember plays, if he's smart enough to do that, how dumb or horrible [is he] to do what he did?" Maharg said, comparing Vick to cult leader Charles Manson when talking about who she described as "sick people."

Speaking personally, and not on behalf of Tri-boro Animal Welfare, Maharg said she would not take the donation if it were up to her. Maharg said she would rather Robbins donate to the shelter when it was not a result of Vick's autograph signing.

While a call seeking comment was not returned by the , Vick's planned appearance has been a topic of conversation in animal shelters even outside the tri-boro.

"We have discussed him and our feeling is, they're mixed," Glory Bracken, a volunteer with the West Milford Animal Shelter Society, said. "He went to jail he served his time. He seems to be accepted back very readily. We're uncomfortable with the situation."

Some Butler residents against Vick's appearance have formed a Facebook page to express their frustrations. According to the Facebook event "Sick Vick the Dog Abuser Coming to Butler, NJ," a few are even planning a peaceful protest with signs and banners.

Capt. Ciro Chimento said if the protest does happen, it will not be the first peaceful protest Butler has seen.

"There have been peaceful assembly protests in regards to the war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq," Chimento said. "No arrests were made, all parties were very passive."

Chimento also wanted to convey the following:

"It is every individuals' constitutional right to stage peaceful protests, however, the Butler Police will not tolerate unlawful actions from any one individual or group. The Butler Police is prepared to take action in order to protect life and property, including arresting those who may cause harm to Mr. Vick or any representative of the Butler Sports Card shop. Any individual, or group, contemplating disruption of of motorist and/or pedestrian traffic, acts of criminal mischief, and or assaults shall be dealt in accordance with the New Jersey Laws and borough ordinances. Any group wishing to peacefully assemble on borough property shall also be directed to do so in accordance to existing borough ordinances."

Chimento said police will not be patrolling the event, unless Robbins hires off-duty officers at a cost of $85 per hour. Robbins indicated that he has already hired two plainclothes security guards to be at the event, and that he also plans to hire some Butler police officers.

Despite the negative opinions, some Main Street business owners are excited for Vick's appearance.

"I'm not a big fan of him at all, I'm a Giants fan," Ankit Kakkad, owner of Butler Dollar Plus and Party, said. "I'm not a fan of what he did, but he's a celebrity, he will bring people here, so as long as it helps the business, I could care less."

Robbins said he has had to field dozens of calls from animal activists who are upset about the event, but that he told one of the callers his intentions for the donation.

"She thought that was very nice of me," he said. "Am I going to cancel the event? There's not even a .01 chance. Do I have a problem donating money? No."

margaret Polici May 27, 2011 at 03:15 AM
What a bunch of sad people. These same hateful people are the ones who parents, tortured, hung, human beings for no reason but hate. All this over dogs that did not even belong to them. Unbelievable and ignorgant. They don't want any money to help the animals, what does that tell you? It tells me this trash does not care about helping animals their hate is too strong for that. Charles Manson is one of them, the nerve of these fools to compare Vick to him. White people are crazy and they will always love animals more than humans that do not look like them.
CR May 27, 2011 at 11:22 AM
Those of you who continue to have hate in your hearts for this man are worse than he was. If you're really concerned about his past mistakes, why not take the time to do some research and learn how he was raised to think that dog fighting was normal. I honestly love animals more than most people but I cannot hate someone who didn't know any better. He's paid his dues, is trying to help the animal abuse issue and y'all need to give the man a chance. Hate is a far worse sin.
George May 27, 2011 at 12:13 PM
I don't think he should be walking the earth? Easy there Sandi. (What exactly is Soul Journey anyway?) While I do not condone what he did to those poor dogs, then man did do his time. His actions didn't deserve the death penalty that's for sure.
Just Saying May 27, 2011 at 12:32 PM
I must say, your video report surely opened my eyes regarding a few of the business owners of downtown! Guess I won't be visiting the hate mongers who have always professed "peace and love"! T hank you for the Proof Pudding!
Thomas Jass May 27, 2011 at 01:42 PM
i know that he paid and did his time but it is way to soon. i volunteer with a organization and if they would accept his money and him i would protest and not want to be apart of that group anymore. it is sad how we forget so fast what people do and feel sorry for the accused and not the victims.
JACKSON May 28, 2011 at 12:18 AM
The nerve of some of you with this continued bashing of Michael Vick and the issue with the dogs. This bashing come comes from White America, the same people who mistreated blacks for years, the same people who didn't see a problem with lynching, raping, beating, or burning to death Afro American...................please don't say this happened during slavery, what I am speaking of occurred in the 40's, 50's,60,70's, you even went as far as to use dogs to attack and intimidate Afro Americans. The majority if not all of the people (if that is what you want to call them) were never held accountable for these crimes even though they could be identified. I know most of you watch the Oprah Show, it was just a couple of weeks ago, she did a show on the Freedom Riders, she actually had some of these people on her show, she even had a admitted former KKK member on the show as well, who sat on her stage and admitted on the show to beating people because of their race, when asked the question about beating, I just wanted Oprah to ask him this question "how many blacks did he help kill?" And of course he wasn't held accountable. Point is white folks have asked forgiveness and recieved it for their mistreated of human being, these horror stories (about the mistreatment of blacks) are not written about or discussed on a daily basis, most of you won't even admit it ever happened, fact is it did, blacks have moved on. GET OVER IT
CM May 28, 2011 at 06:27 AM
Does not surprise me at all that butler would support Vicks, considering Butler stood by the owners of track side bar and grill, when they beat a guy to a pulp because he was gay. I am ashamed to be from butler lately.
Michael Osenni May 28, 2011 at 07:53 AM
You can't seriously be equating a hate crime against a human being to dog fighting, can you?
Michael Osenni May 28, 2011 at 11:00 AM
Jackson, this has nothing to do with race relations in the middle of the 20th century.
Michael Osenni May 28, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Sonds like you've got some hate in your yourself. How is this a race issue at all?
JK Grace May 31, 2011 at 08:17 PM
I can't believe Tri Boro Animal Shelter is willing to accept this money. If all the football fans want to forgive, that's fine...BUT DON'T FORGET WHAT HIS MONEY ONCE PAID FOR: • approximately 66 dogs, mostly pitbulls, some with scars and injuries; most were underfed • 18 were immediately euthanized; the remaining 48 went for evaluation • about half of the dogs were chained to car axles and just out of reach of each other, a typical arrangement for fighting dogs • a blood-stained fighting area • animal training and breeding equipment, including a “rape stand”, a device in which a female dog who is too aggressive to submit to males for breeding is strapped down with her head in a restraint • a “break” or “parting” stick, used to pry open fighting dogs' mouths during fights • assorted paperwork documenting involvement in animal fighting ventures  • performance-enhancing drugs commonly used to increase the fighting potential in dogs, as well as to keep injured dogs fighting longer.
Debbie O'Neill June 01, 2011 at 12:51 PM
I think it's very ironic that the posters here who are so indignant about the hateful nature of Mr. Vick's past crime(s) against animals appear to be some of the most hateful and unforgiving humans I have come across. I cannot get over the judgmental and vicious attitude some of these posters are spewing.
BUTLERSPORTS June 02, 2011 at 08:48 PM
why are you saying that i watched a man get beat up when i wasnt even there and have no clue what you are talking about?
Leah Lindal June 04, 2011 at 08:10 AM
First of all, it is not a race issue, slime comes in a variety of colors. How did he pay his dues? He never donated a dime to his victims and he did not serve time for cruelty. I find it funny how the idiot said White America loves dogs more than people. A living thing should never be tortured like those poor dogs were. By the way, I feel the same about innocent people being tortured. Leave a comment when you have a valid arguement. Way to teach kids that his behavior can be overlooked because he can play ball and sign million dollar contracts. Congrats, you get my vote for parents of the year. To the business owner who said I don't care because he will bring in money, you are a greedy creep. Get some morals.
Michael Osenni June 04, 2011 at 08:34 AM
Isn't it nit-picking to say he didn't serve time for cruelty? The man went to jail; it's not as though he would have gone to a different jail or received different treatment based on the crime he was convicted of because he served time in the federal prison system. And while I wouldn't agree that White America loves dogs more than people, dogs are undoubtedly more loved than other animals. I'm sure you won't agree, but I don't believe there would be as much outrage had he been involved in the killing of slugs or sea urchins or what have you, but philosophically, there's no difference.
Just Saying June 04, 2011 at 12:34 PM
Your most recent comment is right on the money, Michael O. If we really care about our animals, let's stay on track and et the bleeding hearts 'put their money where their mouth is!' Stop spinning your wheels people attacking another human being's point of view and do more to help the 'poor helpless animals'.

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