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Deadline passes for dog owners in Vick case to claim animals

  • Story Highlights
  • Owners of dogs in Vick case had until 5 p.m. ET today to claim animals
  • Dogs seized in April from property the NFL quarterback owned
  • Michael Vick expected to plead guilty Monday to federal conspiracy charges
  • NFL still considering what action to take
  • Next Article in U.S. »
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(CNN) -- The deadline has come and gone for the owners of 50 remaining pit bulls seized in April from the Virginia property owned by Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick to claim the animals, but the dogs' fate remains in limbo.

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NFL star Michael Vick has accepted an offer to plead guilty to conspiracy charges in a dogfighting case.

Prosecutors have asked a federal judge for permission to exterminate the pit bulls, but it's not known when this would take place.

Owners had until 5 p.m. ET Thursday to claim dogs, said Mary Kay Hatton, division manager for the Clerk's Office at the U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Two of the dogs have died, and a third was returned to its owner August 13, according to court documents filed Thursday.

Officials and animal rights advocates agree that the dogs should be killed because their brutal training could make them a threat to people and other animals.

The dogs might not be killed right away because they are evidence in the case against Vick and possibly others referred to in a federal indictment issued in July. Video Watch PETA dog fighting expert say the dogs must die »

Vick is scheduled to plead guilty in U.S. District Court in Richmond, Virginia, on Monday to federal conspiracy charges involving illegal dog fighting.

Three other defendants have pleaded guilty in exchange for reduced sentences, contending that money for the dog fighting came almost exclusively from Vick. See what the other defendants admitted »

Federal prosecutors filed several forfeiture notices in Virginia newspapers seeking the owners of the dogs, but they say no one has come forward.

The government has subcontracted with several kennels in Virginia to house the animals. The dogs are Hanover and Sussex Counties and the cities of Suffolk, Chesapeake, Virginia Beach and Hopewell, according to court papers.

The details of Vick's plea agreement will be made public after his court appearance. By accepting the deal, Vick will avoid more serious charges that would have been considered by a grand jury that convened this week.

According to court documents, two of Vick's alleged partners said he helped kill dogs that didn't fight well, and that the three men "executed approximately eight dogs" by methods such as hanging and drowning.

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The National Football League is reviewing the case and considering what, if any, action it will take against the 27-year-old.

After Vick's indictment, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ordered the quarterback not to report to training camp until the league completed its own review of the case. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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