10 January 2011

Michael Vick Wants a Dog

"Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future." ~ Oscar Wilde

Like I occasionally do, I was flipping through a silly magazine when a headline grabbed my attention. Like I rarely do, I read that article under that headline in that silly magazine:

Should Michael Vick be allowed to own a dog again?

Vick stated he would like to own a dog. Someday. If the court allowed him after serving probation.

When I read the short article, this news bothered me immediately, because I am a dog lover. The acts Vick allowed on those dogs - dog fighting - was vile. I remember how mad I was when I first heard the news. The anger I had and sadness I felt made me physically ill.

At the end of the article, a question was posed:

"Even if he's a changed man, should [Vick] be granted the privilege of pet ownership?'

 And it made me think: Should Vick get that opportunity? Doesn't everyone want a second chance? Should we give others a second chance, especially if they have been through rehabilitation, if they have served time for their crime, and if they are seriously remorseful?

There are only two choices, in my opinion: Yes or No.

Time Served
Since Vick was released from prison over 19 months ago (after serving 23 months in prison), he has been on probation (3 years, slated to expire Nov. 2012), agreed to federal authorities' request to provide $1 million for the care of the confiscated dogs, and as part of probation, volunteering for the Humane Society.

Remarkably, he has become a spokesperson for the Humane Society against the atrocities of dog fighting; an anti-violence advocate.

Courtesy of The Humane Society

The American dream can mean many different things. Usually what comes to mind, for example, is the boy who grew up in the projects only to become one of the best National Football League players. Such as Michael Vick.

The American Dream can also mean redemption. Getting a second chance after falling.  Falling hard.

We see it often in Hollywood. Such as the drunk actor who makes antisemitic remarks only to come back with an award winning movie. Or the songstress who goes off the deep end only to come back with one of the best selling (and listening!) albums of her entire career.

We see it in ourselves. I look back on my erroneous ways and I can't even count on both hands how many second chances I have had in my own life. I see in myself the imperfections. And when I have fallen, all I want is a kind guide to lead me out; to learn from the mistake; to be forgiven, and to be granted a second chance to prove myself. I think now, where would I be if it wasn't for my parents, my friends, my employers, my husband, if they hadn't given me a second chance; if I hadn't forgiven myself; if I hadn't taken to their help to guide me to safety? Who knows! But I probably wouldn't be in the safe haven I am in now. I don't take my mistakes for granted. I am grateful for my falls, grateful for getting up, and grateful to learn and move on.

So there are two key ingredients, I believe, that give my "Yes"  if Vick wants a companion dog:
  1. Vick has to learn from his horrific mistake (& that will only be between him, God, and the Federal Judge) and doesn't do it again.
  2. Like you, you, me, and all of us, Vick deserves a second chance
Because who are we to make that judgment call? Who are we - all sinners, all fallers, all receivers of second chances - to judge Vick, who in the present, is making a dutiful effort to redeem himself, make good of what he made so bad, and move on for himself, the dogs, his family? 

We are not worthy to judge him.

And just like we have come back from the bottom and done good for others, I hope that truly happens for Vick and that he sees the real beauty between man and dog.


Have an opinion on this matter? Share with me what you think

If Michael Vick is a changed man, should he be granted the privilege to own a dog/pet?


  1. While I agree with most everything said..I perhaps am more guarded of change. Working in Parole and Probation for over 14 years combined..the question is what really is change. I think motivation and timing are everything. I do not know how many people while under prison and probation did well..changed their life, were productive. They are no different then Vick..when someone is checking in on you and you have rules to follow you do (in most cases) My issue is after he is done with probation he wants to get a dog..why ?? and why the same breeds ?? those are hard questions as part of his journey of change he has to answer. Why not see how life is outside of probation when you do not have all the rules.

    I do not believe people are not changeable..but I do think most criminals and abusers it is a dificult process. I doubt dog fighting is his only issue..and that is the heart of it. So I think he needs to walk the talk as a free man..maybe after time and more work on his issues with the lifestyle he had and his future (not under watchful eyes) he will be ready for a pet. But the fact that right when he is done with probation he is trying to get a dog..which is still very hard for most people makes you think about the motivation of why now.

    Abusers that go after our most vulnerable children and animals are problematic with have they changed. I do not believe that most of them have changed forever (but they can talk the talk)..I do believe they manage..the re-offense rate is high.

    It is a challenging question and I do see both sides. Just like I would say to any probationer I supervise..when things are different when you are off of probation..you still have to keep working on your issues..do not stop counseling, figure out a new life outside of what you did before. As time passes you can embrace your life..Vick needs time. 2 years of EASY TIME in Federal Prison (federal Prison is a country club for a guy like Vick..I bet he owned that prison) and 3 years of probation is time..but he needs time to figure out who Vick is a free man.

    All that said I believe some people can say over and over how they have changed and talk the talk but there is something in them that will never change..I can think of several people I supervised. There is no way ever they should be near a child. I do not think that is the case with Vick..but again it goes back to timing and motivation and I think he needs more time and he needs to answer those tough questions of motivation and why (that kind of dog) why not a pug ??

  2. If he is a changed man, and that's a big 'if', in my opinion he should be allowed to own a pet. I love dogs. I would sell an arm for my dog. It seems awful to me to not be allowed to own a pet. I truly hope that he's a changed man.

  3. I havent really taken the proper time to consider the question or pose a valid (or invalid) point on the subject, but I did read a comment that made me tilt my head in thought: Can/should someone who abused (or murdered) their spouse be allowed to re-marry?

    Thanks for posting your thoughts NM. Good conversation usually follows good questions.