The Humane Society of the United States and NFL star and convicted dog fighter Michael Vick have weighed in on the "Dog Wars" Android app that we first told you about last week (and has since been picked up the likes of the Wall Street Journal, the Huffington Post, and the Washington Post, among others). Styled after such simulation games as the popular "Dope Wars," "Dog Wars" touts itself as "A GAME THAT WILL NEVER BE IN THE iPHONE APP STORE!!!" in which you "feed, water, train and FIGHT your virtual dog against other player's." [sic]
Vick, the former Atlanta Falcons quarterback who currently is with the Philadelphia Eagles, pleaded guilty to state felony dog fighting charges in 2007 and 2008 and was released from prison in the spring of 2009. In his statement Monday to the Humane Society of the United States, Vick said:
“I’ve come to learn the hard way that dogfighting is a dead-end street. Now, I am on the right side of this issue, and I think it’s important to send the smart message to kids, and not glorify this form of animal cruelty, even in an Android app.”
Humane Society president and CEO Wayne Pacelle added:
“Android should drop 'Dog Wars' from its online market and join the national movement to save dogs from this violent practice. Because 'Dog Wars' actually instructs players on how to condition a dog using methods that are standard in organized dogfighting, this game may be a virtual training ground for would-be dogfighters. Its timing and message are all wrong.”
Since we first brought you this story on Saturday, developer Kage Games LLC has significantly softened the Dog Wars app description on the Android Market. Gone is the "If you have a bug up your butt about the game concept ..." line that precedes a six-point reasoning of the application. The description has since added:
We appreciate everyone's thoughts about our app as we are firm believers in the right to free speech and the free exchange of ideas.
These freedoms are the building blocks of the Google Android operating system and the very reason so many users choose Google Android over the alternative.
We've heard thoughts from many dog and animal lovers about our app and first we, as dog owners and dog lovers ourselves, would like to thank you for your thoughts and for the work many of you do on behalf of our canine friends. We DO NOT CONDONE violence towards animals or humans, and we are confident in humankind's ability to distinguish between a rudimentary game and the consequences of real life.
We are confident this game will be a net benefit to dogs as it has been in our operating agreement from the start of this project that a portion of the proceeds go to animal rescue organizations. Further, this is a satire about the ridiculousness of dogfighting and we believe in the power of a modern media tool to educate and raise awareness of the real horrors.
There's another paragraph about how a portion of the proceeds from the app (it's a free app, but there are advertisements in it) are "being appropriated for catastrophic human tragedies, the first of which is the Japan Tsunami relief effort." You can read the entire revised description in the Android Market. [Humane Society, Android Market]