The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) sent a strongly worded message to the National Football League (NFL) and its commissioner.

In the letter, AVMA President Gregory S. Hammer, DVM, wrote: "A particularly disturbing consequence of a failure to address this subculture of violence is obvious when we recognize that numerous studies show that violent acts directed toward animals often indicate a tendency to commit violent acts toward people. This evidence is sufficiently strong that many states now require veterinarians to report cases of animal abuse to designated authorities so that this information can be shared with agencies providing social services for people. Children model their behavior and attitudes on those of adults, particularly adults they admire, and athletes are-or can be-wonderful role models for children."

Dr. Hammer has consistently taken a leadership role in his public appearances in denouncing dog fighting and animal cruelty.

"It is incredibly disheartening that the 'blood sport' of dog fighting has been allowed to thrive in a nation that clearly recognizes the importance of animals in our lives and places such a high value on the human-animal bond," Dr. Hammer said. "What was done to the dogs involved in the Michael Vick case was unconscionable, but not unique. Unfortunately, these acts are considered 'standard procedures' in the world of dog fighting. Michael Vick's notoriety has momentarily captured our attention, but his involvement is just a symptom of a larger problem for which long-term solutions must aggressively be sought."

Michael Vick, quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons last season, recently pled guilty in connection to federal charges that he was involved in dog fighting.

The full letter from Dr. Hammer to the NFL is available here. For more information, please visit http://www.avma.org .

The AVMA and its more than 75,000 member veterinarians are engaged in a wide variety of activities dedicated to advancing the science and art of animal, human and public health. Visit the AVMA Web site at http://www.avma.org for more information.