Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who was convicted in part for strangling, drowning, and removing of all the teeth of female dogs who would fight back during mating, has confirmed he owns a dog.
“I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family’s decision to care for a pet," Vick said in a statement released to Philly.com on Thursday. "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.”
Vick made the statement a day after he was asked whether he owned a dog, Fox Sports reported.
The four-time Pro Bowl quarterback refused to discuss the topic just a day earlier, ESPN said.
Last week, Vick tweeted a photo of him and his daughter seated together at a table presumably at home. To their right was an open box of Milk-Bone dog biscuits. The tweet was later deleted and was replaced by a similar photo, sans the Milk-Bone box.
Several days later, the Eagles quarterback was asked to explain the photos.
“I’m here to strictly talk about football,” Vick said Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex, according to Philly.com. “What goes on in my personal life is not to be talked about. What’s most important right now is the Philadelphia Eagles and getting the win Sunday.”
For those who don’t watch football, Vick is infamously known as the operator of a brutal dogfighting ring, and he served nearly two years in federal prison for his role in the operation, msnNOW.com writes.
Weeks after his release from prison in 2009, Vick signed with the Eagles in August 2009 and later ascended to the starting job.
Vick has also worked with The Humane Society of the United States to speak out against animal cruelty. He's made appearances at schools and spoken to students about the dangers of being involved in dogfighting. Vick says that commitment will continue.
"This is an opportunity to break the cycle," Vick said. "To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change."
Vick was banned from owning a dog until completing his probation period which ended in July 2012.
When he first stated his desire to own one, beginning in 2010, it touched off a firestorm. Some animal-rights activists were outraged along with fans who thought the star player should never be allowed to have a dog.
In July, Vick told CNN’s Piers Morgan that he did not want to deprive his daughters from having the pet because of his crimes.
Asked what kind of dog he would get, Vick said that he would allow his children to choose, but “it certainly won’t be a pit bull.” (See picture of Vick's Dog here)
Asked to react to Vick's dog ownership, the Humane Society declined to comment, but the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals issued a statement Friday saying that Vick should express empathy and remorse for the dogs that he killed, something the group says he hasn't done publicly.
"Because of this, the ASPCA has serious concerns about Vick's ability to be a responsible pet owner," the statement said. "We can only hope that Vick will set the right example for his children by teaching them to foster humane habits and a lifelong bond with their family pet."
"I'm not a psychopath. I'm not crazy. I'm a human being," Vick once told The Associated Press about wanting to own a dog, ESPN said. "What happened in my past and what I did in the culture I grew up in doesn't shape and mold me as the person I am now."
Mel can't forget
Richard Hunter, who owns one of the dogs saved from Vick's old fighting operation, named Mel, told the LA Times in 2010 that Vick's past, is his dog's present.
On this night, like many other nights, Mel was waiting for his owners to take him outside, but he couldn't alert them with a bark. He doesn't bark. He won't bark. The bark has been beaten out of him.It turns out that Mel had been a bait dog, thrown into the ring as a sort of sparring partner for the tougher dogs, sometimes even muzzled so he wouldn't fight back, beaten daily to sap his will. Mel was under constant attack, and couldn't fight back, and the deep cuts were visible on more than just his fur.
"Some people wonder, are we ever going to let Michael Vick get beyond all this?" he said.
Every time the 4-year-old dog meets a stranger, he goes into convulsions. He staggers back into a wall for protection. He lowers his face and tries to hide. New faces are not new friends, but old terrors.
"I tell them, let's let Mel decide that. When he stops shaking, maybe then we can talk."
What do you think? Should he be allowed to own a dog? Let us know in the comments below!