Monday, October 15, 2012

When is a debt paid? What does forgiven mean?

So, I'm sure it's not a surprise to anybody at this point that Michael Vick is a dog owner again. Or a "pet owner", according to his carefully worded official statement:


“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.

34 comments:

  1. I'm one of the people who thinks he got off WAY too easy. I consider dogs and other animals pretty much the equivalent of human children when it comes to crimes against them ("pretty much" because I like them a lot better than kids! haha). So I always think, what kind of a sentence would Vick have gotten, in the actual court and the court of public opinion, if he had done to only ONE child what he did to MULTIPLE dogs? Drowning, beating, hanging, electrocuting, etc. He would have been locked up, the key figuratively thrown away, and everyone would have felt that was the right thing. At the very least, I think he should never have been allowed to play football again and certainly never allowed to own any kind of animal, especially a dog, ever again. I agree with you, I think he is only sorry he got caught. And I don't think that the consequences were near harsh enough to make him sorry for what he actually DID. :( He should've thought about the consequences on his daughters' pet owning ambitions before he did it.

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    1. Really (if I remember right) his crime had nothing to do with football and so I think the criminal punishment couldn't have included that. Could the NFL Ethics committee (or whatever it's called; I"m sure they've got something like that, right?) have banned him because that isn't the image they want associated with their sport? Why yes. But they didn't, which is a shame.

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  2. I have the same sentiment as you do. I don't know it is just too soon or if he should ever be able to own a dog. As for his daughter's, yes I'd be sorry they couldn't have a dog but let their father explain to them why!

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    1. Granted, we don't know what he has or hasn't said to his daughters...but I think a "real man" would admit to them that they couldn't have a dog because he had done something wrong. At the very least.

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  3. If you didn't see yesterdays post re missing furry friend can you pop by and see if you can help. Anything we can do will be greatly appreciated. Have a happy Monday.
    Best wishes Molly

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    1. I did see, and the aftermath. Poor pup :(

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  4. Excellent, thoughtful post. I've read The Lost Dogs. Took me a long time to do so, but I forced myself. I do not believe that he should EVER have a pet again. All this whining he's done about his daughters not being able to have a dog (yes, I call it whining) tells me he still doesn't "get it." Nowhere have I seen him talk about how he explained to his kids WHY they couldn't have a dog.

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    1. Thank you.

      Somebody's home life is their own, but I would like to think that he did tell them, in a responsible and simplistic way (I don't know how old his kids are). Of course, I'd also like a pony and a million dollars.

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  5. I have to agree. And I also wonder why he wants a dog?

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    1. I definitely wonder that as well. If dogs, from "his culture", are such throwaway creatures, it isn't as though one can expect him to crave their companionship. I'm experiencing some cognitive dissonance here.

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  6. Of course, he could have told them why :( but AMEN - that poor dog needs to be carefully monitored.

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    1. I hope somebody is watching. There's been so little information, there's no telling where the dog came from, if the dog ("pet") is a rescue or bought from a breeder or craigslist or what.

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  7. I don't think he should ever be allowed to have a dog in his life...BUT to deny his children, who are innocent, of the chance to grow up with a dog? I just don't know what the right answer is here.

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    1. Nobody in my family committed crimes involving dogs, but I grew up without one. Would I have LOVED to grow up with a dog? Why yes. But Michael Vick committed crimes, and dogs should be protected from him. It has nothing to do with his kids; he drags his kids into the conversation.

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  8. It is too bad he isn't honest with his kids about why they weren't able to get a dog for that time. He could have told it in a way that wasn't too graphic but was at least honest.

    I think that since he is in the spotlight - especially now owning a dog again - he will be very careful. I like to believe that he has learned something about how to properly care for a dog or any other animal. I believe people can change and whether or not he truly has - only time can tell.

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    1. I do hope that he's careful, if only for the scrutiny that he'll receive. I don't now if I think he's "learned his lesson"; maybe he hasn't. But I sure hope that he ACTS like he has, for that dog's sake and his childrens'.

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  9. I agree complete with you. ...and I doubt the truth of his statement.

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    1. What he says is just so very hard to trust.

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  10. Y'know, kids don't have to grow up with dogs. They really don't. Plenty of kids don't and turn out just fine. A turtle makes a great pet, teaches responsibility, can be held. And not having a dog is a great opportunity for that man to be honest with his children. There's not much more defining than for a father to be honest with his own children about his sins, and repentant. It changes a child, changes the relationship for the better, if done well. This experience SHOULD have built character in Vick and his family.

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    1. I know they don't have to grow up with dogs. I didn't! Granted, look where that got me....

      But yes, one can hope that he's been honest with his children, in some regard. I don't want to put words in his mouth, but I can assume the worst about what he told them when he still couldn't have a dog, the "it's not my fault" style language that might have been used.

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  11. I don't know what it takes for a human to shut off his normal compassion and emotions so that he can fight, torture and kill dogs. I hope I never do know.

    But my opinions aren't going to change anything here. My greatest hope is that this dog can touch something in Michael Vick and make him whole and compassionate.

    Punishment doesn't have much appeal for me if it doesn't bring remorse. Perhaps this dog, will be able to do what courts and public opinion don't appear to have done: make Michael Vick truly sorry.

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    1. Thank you Pamela, I think you've made a really good point. Dogs do have that power, and I do hope that his dog has that power, to make him truly sorry, and to believe the words that he's been saying about how dog fighting is wrong.

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  12. It's hard for me to weigh in on this. On one side, I'd like to believe in forgiveness and second chances. But on the other hand, yes I root for someone to knock that SOB down every single Sunday.

    Personally I've been looking for information about what he's done for the plight of animals in this country. If you have links, I would love to see them, so far I'm coming up empty.

    I would like to know who exactly gave him a dog and if they're monitoring him or not.

    And really, can't someone with his income buy something other than milkbones for treats?

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    1. I've seen the same re-worded articles about him giving talks. That's pretty much it.

      I really do hope that somebody's keeping track of him. I guess technically it isn't law enforcement's problem, as he's off his supervised release. But it would still make me feel better to think that somebody's driving by once in awhile and laying eyes on the Vick household to make sure things are on the up and up.

      I wondered that about the Milkbones as well; I know Elka won't eat them, if they're handed to her. And I'm far from a millionaire sports star.

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  13. I don't think he should be able to own a dog. But that dog is pretty safe from any abuse just because of his history. People will be watching.

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    1. That's my comforting thought, that he isn't alone in this anymore.

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  14. He did pay his debt. People may think it was not harsh enough, but he paid the penalty he was given. So in that sense he is is released to live his life. But he should realize that many people feel that he is not fit to own pets. That should have lead him to put off (maybe indefinitely) having any. But the world is all about "me, me, me", so I guess it is no surprise that he is too.

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    1. I'm unsurprised that he got a dog (or pet) as soon as he was legally able. The fact that he is legally able suggests that either his crimes are not as serious in the eyes of the law as they are in dog owners' eyes (the gambling stuff is considered far worse, I think. They almost put together a RICO case on him, which would have resulted in FAR more jail time). One could hope that he would have made the decision to stay pet free, but as you say....me me me.

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  15. I think what this Vick-peoples did to all those dogs is awful, and the only pet I think he should be allowed to own is a hungry bear with a thorn in its paw, and the requirement should be that he has to pull the thorn out with his bare hands while wearing a string of sausages around his neck. But what do I know. I'm just a dog...

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    1. I'm not sure even that would teach him. Because one could blame the bear...

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  16. Yes, 2browndawgs, he did serve the sentence that he was given. Which is another interesting conversation- if he'd just been some poor black guy instead of an NFL star, do you think his sentence would have been the same?

    I doubt he had any trouble at all finding somebody to give him a dog. He's the new posterboy for the H$U$. Wayne Pacelle'd give him one. And there were probably people lining up on his doorstep to give him one of their puppies. He served his time! He learned his lesson!

    Ah, fame.

    I think I would feel differently if he'd "just" been a dog-fighter. But what he did to those dogs- hanging them, beating them to death, electrocuting them? That's something above and beyond and, in my eyes, very different. If you want to kill a dog, a bullet is cheap and efficient, you know? What this man did grew from some special kind of sick. And I am sorry, but I don't think a couple years and some public penance is gonna fix that.

    (Really really well-written post, Jen, btw.)

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    1. That is an interesting conversation, whether his status influenced the sort of sentence that he received. I haven't read enough about cases like this to comment on that, other than that it certainly SHOULDN'T make a difference (and of course, other cases like this are FAR less publicized).

      Yes, the specific details of the deaths of those dogs was far worse than taking them out back and shooting them. That in itself is reprehensible, but it seems the level of abuse carried out, at that length, was done out of a certain pleasure. Y'know, serial killers frequently start with hurting animals (it's part of the Macdonald Triad)

      (thank you)

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