Animal group falls short in bid to buy Vick house

State and Federal officials search the grounds behind a home owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick in Smithfield, Va., July 6, 2007. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

March 21, 2011 9:46:38 AM PDT
A Pennsylvania-based animal rights group said Monday it failed to raise enough money to buy NFL star Michael Vick's former dogfighting compound and turn it into a rehabilitation center for chained and penned dogs.

Facing financial ruin after his indictment on federal dogfighting conspiracy charges, Vick sold the property to developer Wilbur Ray Todd Jr. for about $450,000. Todd spent about $50,000 sprucing it up and repairing damage caused by vandals and looters but has had difficulty selling the property, which he originally listed for $1.1 million in 2007 following Vick's prison sentence.

Dogs Deserve Better of Tipton, Pa. had until Sunday to raise nearly $600,000 to buy the 4,600-square-foot house in Surry County, Va. The house and the 15 acres it sits on served as headquarters for the Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting operation.

Dogs Deserve Better raised about $130,000 from about 1,500 donors, according to organization founder Tamira Thayne. Thayne said she is now asking for a 30-day extension to secure financing and is hoping more donations will come in.

The group's ultimate goal is to raise $3 million to buy the site, install fencing and build a facility for the dogs. The house would be used for offices.

The property has five bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms, two fireplaces, cathedral ceilings, walk-in closets and an attached, two-car garage.

Thayne said it was important to buy the Vick house rather than a less expensive piece of property for a dog facility because of the symbolism it would convey.

"It's the good basically vanquishing evil kind of scenario," she said. "To take something over like this and basically bring in good would be very empowering for all of us. It's an important part of societal evolution."

Vick served 18 months in prison and two months of home confinement while he tried to work his way out of bankruptcy. The former Atlanta Falcons quarterback signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in August 2009, less than a month after his release, prompting an outcry from animal rights groups and animal-loving football fans.

Vick has since started working with the Humane Society of the United States to stop organized animal fighting.