The House on Moonlight Road (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday May 29, 2007 9:22AM; Updated: Tuesday July 17, 2007 11:38PM
It was clear to Strouse, who has been an animal control officer for 22 years, that some of the animals had been used in fights, but not until she climbed a stepladder to the second story of the largest of the black buildings was she convinced that fights had been staged on the property. In a room about 16 feet square Strouse found blood: a smear on one wall, splashes near the base of walls, a spattering on a jacket hanging from an air conditioner. She also found a dog tooth on a bucket. Yet the most convincing evidence that this was the "pit" -- the dogfighting arena -- was the rectangular area in the middle of the room devoid of blood. "Dogfighters put down carpet to give their dogs traction," Strouse says.
Investigators would eventually find a bloodstained carpet elsewhere on the property, and later Strouse would proclaim to a friend, "We got him. We got Michael Vick."
But neither the case, nor Vick's connection to it, is so clear-cut. Since the raid, Vick, 26, has proclaimed his innocence and blamed family members who lived in the house for what was found there. "It's unfortunate I have to take the heat," he said to reporters in New York City on April 27, a day before the NFL draft. "Lesson learned for me."
As of Monday, Surry County commonwealth's attorney Gerald Poindexter had not filed animal-welfare charges against anyone in the case, including Vick and his cousin, 26-year-old Davon Boddie, whose arrest on suspicion of drug possession sparked the raid. (Boddie gave police the Moonlight Road address as his place of residence; when searching the property they found probable cause to seek a second warrant involving animal cruelty.)
Poindexter has said he's convinced dogfighting took place on Moonlight Road but also that he hasn't yet found enough evidence to charge anyone. He said he has no eyewitnesses to fights there and noted that as many as 10 people might have had access to the property. Two schools of thought have thus emerged based on the information uncovered so far: Vick is either, as some in the animal welfare community believe, the financier of a large dogfighting operation and an aficionado of that blood sport, or, he is, as he said, a victim of poor choices made by those around him.