“I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family’s decision to care for a pet. As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals. I want to ensure that my children establish a loving bond and treat all of God’s creatures with kindness and respect. Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family. This is an opportunity to break the cycle. To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change.”
He was sentenced, he spent 18 months in jail on charges related to dogfighting, and his three years of parole are up. During those three years, he had psychotherapy, and did some speaking out against dogfighting with the Humane Society CEO, Wayne Pacelle. So, do I think Michael Vick should be able to own dogs again?
Well, from what I understand from having read The Lost Dogs, he himself had a personal hand in the killing of several of the dogs that he owned. From what I've read when he was interviewed on the topic, the language he used wasn't very sorry. Or, scratch that; the language he used didn't reflect that he was sorry he had tortured and killed dogs. The language he used indicated that he was sorry he was caught and punished. During his enforced three years of no dog ownership, he has said how "unfair" it was that his daughters could not have a dog, and it was "hard for him to explain" the reason behind it. I confess to feeling a lack of empathy for him; he made a choice, many times, to do horribly cruel things for his dogs. I'm supposed to feel bad that he's suffering for his choice, and that the consequence reflects on his daughters? Sorry, but no.
I see in articles that Michael Vick and his family was encouraged to adopt from a shelter or rescue. I'm not sure if they're familiar with the fact that these organizations tend to do background checks. As the Best Friends Soceity points out, "have you owned a dog before?", among others, will be a pretty tricky question to answer. I do wonder who it was actually gave this man a dog.
The bottom line is that it really doesn't matter what I think. The crimes are not mine to forgive. There are a lot of people who think it's no big deal that he fought dogs. There are a lot of people who think he should have had a far worse sentence, including being barred from owning dogs for the rest of his life. There are people who only care whether he plays a good game of football.
I will say this for him: he didn't have to enter a partnership with the Humane Society. He didn't have to speak to Congress in support of an anti-dogfighting bill. He didn't have to go to schools and talk to kids in an effort to steer them away from dog fighting (if I'm wrong about any of this, and these things were actually part of the terms of his supervised release, please tell me and link me the sources. I do not want to spread any incorrect information).
So, do I think Michael Vick should be able to own a dog again? No. I'm not sure if I think it's too soon, or if he's entirely unforgivable, but I do not trust the safety of a dog under his care.