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Mrs. Appel called the Newport News, Va., SPCA, a much larger facility about an hour-and-a-half away and asked what was happening there. “They told me they were adopting out animals all the time,” she said. “A lady there said she thought the reason we might be having trouble is that people think we’re involved with Michael Vick.”

Perhaps, in a perverse way, we should all be grateful Cara’s Corner hasn’t drawn a crowd. Adam Parascandola, the new director of Oakland Animal Services, has a frightening thought about the legacy of this case.

“My fear is that hearing that people like Michael Vick are involved in this will make it seem exciting,” he said. “Whether he’s convicted or not, he’s a famous athlete. He’s somebody that young kids look up to. Unfortunately, sometimes they like the bad boys.”

Gwen Knapp writes for the San Francisco Chronicle. This article was distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.