THOSE WHO complained that the

Daily News

was barking up the wrong tree in its coverage - and criticism - of Michael Vick, and "not caring" about human victims, got their answer on yesterday's Page One: "JUSTICE FOR SEAN," the headline blared.

Three members of the unprovoked wolfpack that stomped Starbucks manager Sean Conroy, resulting in his death, were found guilty and face sentences of between 2 1/2 and 80 years.

Excellent outcome in a case that was covered daily, along with other homicides.

Those who complain the loudest that animal-advocates "don't care" about humans fall victim to a fallacy - that because we hold one value in our heads and hearts, we have no room for any other.

The fallacy-followers believe that if you care about animals, you don't care about people. It's idiotic.

That's like saying that if you love one of your children, you can't love the other. Or if you jones for chocolate, you can't care for pizza. If you think that an innocent animal's life counts, then you "don't care" about humans.

We should all care about Sean Conroy.

Outside of an infinitesimal number of zealots, animal-lovers' empathy always includes humans, in my experience. Some Vick defenders accused me of not caring about people. How do I defend myself? Point to my work for Variety, the Children's Charity, for almost 20 years, raising more than $350,000? The scores of columns I have written about people in need? Should I ask my critics what they do for people, how much they give to charity, what causes they volunteer for?

Most animal-lovers also care about children because animals are like children in many ways - in their dependency on us, their innocence and their trust, most especially dogs, which are not only our "best friends" but also our loyal servants in so many ways.

"Charley from Jersey" left me a voice mail saying, in part: "This is for you and the rest of the people who can't seem to forgive a guy who killed a freaking dog."

Charley conveniently minimizes Vick's crimes. Dozens, maybe hundreds, of dogs were tortured or killed while in Vick's hands.

People who care only for people and for nothing in the natural world - meaning animals, and the environment - there's something wrong with them. It's not just Me-First-ism, it's Me-Only-ism.

That's selfish, but animal-abusers are far worse. They are sociopaths.

What is called "the link" is a well-established scientific fact.

Since the 1970s, the FBI has recognized that most serial killers have childhood histories of repeated and serious animal cruelty. When they are not stopped early, their next step might be attacking other defenseless targets, such as children or the elderly.

This is something that most "animal-lovers" know, and most others don't, despite our best efforts to warn that the dog-beater or cat-kicker next door might go after your 6-year-old next.

It is because we know this that we doubt Vick's conscience of convenience. It's why I called him Vicious Vick. I don't doubt Eagles owner Jeff Lurie's sincerity in the Michael Vick Salvation Project, but I do doubt Vick. All he has done so far is run his mouth. I won't cheer for him during tonight's game, because I am more interested in what good things he does off the field.

As for the sneering Charley from Jersey, if he goes blind, should he be lucky enough to get a guide dog, will he think of it as just a "freaking dog"?

In the Conroy case, as has been reported, the defendants seemed lighthearted during trial. They were smiling, not sweating bullets as you or I would be.

Their anti-social behavior makes me wonder if any of them had ever abused an animal.

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