Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Martha Copp

Committee Members

Paul Kamolnick, Melissa Schrift


After law enforcement officials in Virginia found evidence of a dogfighting operation, the owner, National Football League star Michael Vick, became one of the most vilified figures in America for supporting a bloodsport that inflicts debilitating bodily harm on dogs. This thesis examines that case in light of the long human history of breeding fighting dogs for war and competitive entertainment. A content analysis was performed on a sample of news reports and opinion pieces that were published in three media outlets. Reactions to the Vick case illuminated strong popular opposition to dogfighting. Findings explore how strong anti-dogfighting views appeared in the publications while contrasting views were either criticized or ignored, and how the NFL sought to protect its tarnished image. Vick's notoriety opened the opportunity for animal rights organizations and activists opposing the bloodsport to argue for significant legal punishment.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.