Michael Vick has been reviled (with good reason) by many, including myself, for what he did to pit bulls five years ago. Recently, through a tweet of his, he had posted a picture with a box of Milk Bone dog biscuits in the background. Then, a few days later, it was revealed that he had a dog. When questioned by reporter, he wanted to keep things about football and evaded the dog question. Later, he came clean about it by issuing a statement:
"I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family's decision to care for a pet," Vick said. "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."
At first, I was outraged. I was 100% convinced this could be the worst thing ever. I thought that Michael Vick would be banned from owning dogs for the rest of his life. It turns out as part of his probation, there was a time limit that expired in May, and he's now able to own dogs again.
As much as I want to, I can't vilify the guy anymore. If he was living by himself and adopted these dogs, I would find that more of a problem. In a situation as controversial as this one, you have to look at the facts as well as the opinions.
One of the facts is, the judge who sentenced him, did not ban him from having dogs for life. He was given a three-year period. There must have been a good reason that judge didn't ban him from owning dogs for life. Any backlash would fall on the judge's shoulders.
Another fact is that out of all of the dogs found that horrific day, one of the dogs was Michael Vick's pet, who was in excellent health during the Bad Newz Kennel raid. So many dogs die in shelters each day because there aren't enough people out there who can give them a safe forever home. What's worse, giving it to a man who's trying to do the right thing after making a huge error in judgement or euthanizing the dog so he'll become just another statistic?
Lastly, he has three children who are innocent. How are they supposed to understand that when a person finishes their punishment, why shouldn't they get another chance? Is that what our country is about?
Michael Vick has been lucky enough to have a life most young boys dream about. As much as he's screwed up big time, he's done good in the world too. Before his arrest, he created the Michael Vick Foundation to help at-risk kids and a scholarship foundation to help students who were part of the equally tragic West Virginia shooting.
I see a person trying to do right by his kids. He's tried to make up for what he did by working with animal groups as an advocate. If he didn't care about making things better, he wouldn't have bothered to continue his volunteer work after his probation ended. It shows that he was big enough to admit to his mistakes. Also, what does it say about us that we can't forgive? Granted, I have no desire to ever see him play football or buy one of his jerseys, but if he's going to put a dog into an abusive situation again, it will affect his children and the aftereffects will be too much to bear.
As much as I hate what he did, the truth of the matter is that he has too much to lose, if he ever does anything like this again. For his sake, I hope he only has one dog and keeps that one dog happy and healthy for a long, long time. Everyone is capable of change if they truly want their life to be different. Change isn't easy, but it appears that he's slowly learning his lesson and trying to become a better person than what he was in his dogfighting past.
When it comes down to it, it's about the dogs themselves. We can choose to focus on a criminal who adopted a dog to benefit his children or we can try to save the other dogs out there who are still being used for dog fighting, to make puppy mill owners a quick buck or being senselessly abused for no good reason. I choose the latter. It doesn't mean I've forgotten what Vick has done, but there comes a time where you have to move on. What he does now can't change what he did in the past, but one can hope that he gains wisdom and truly changes for the better as a result.