A Silver Lining or a Thunder Cloud?

Posted on 08/19/09 36 Comments

Looking back I don’t think I have ever written anything on this blog that could be considered controversial. It is about the change today. 

Michael Vick, once the highest paid professional football player of all time, now a convicted felon, dog fighting ring-leader and reported dog abuser is in line to potentially earn almost 7 million dollars over the next two years to resume his professional football career with  the Philadelphia Eagles. 


As a vegetarian, an animal lover, and dog trainer known throughout the world as someone that has no use for any kind of physical or verbal punishment for dogs, you would think I would be as outraged as everyone else seems to be about Vick’s re-instatement.  I should be screaming to “lock him up and throw away the key!”  But I am not, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I am a big football fan.


I admit the horrors this man bestowed upon those dogs makes my stomach turn. I was privy to the knowledge of the state of the dogs rescued from Vick’s premises. Sad does not come close to describing it.  I could not watch any of the news footage that was presented during Vick’s hearing and sentencing. It made me cry, it actually did.


But I am here to present the positive spin on all of the horror this man has laid upon those defenseless dogs he fought with and sometimes thoughtlessly  killed, if they did not win for him.  


Pit bull fight has been around a long time. It is here in Canada it is throughout the United States I imagine it is also in other parts of the world. Regardless of how disgusting, heartless and barbaric it is, it still manages to survive, some say thrive,  in the underground. 


Had Michael Vick come to his senses before he got caught and backed away from it all, there would be no media attention on what many find as savage amusement and this sport would continue to live on.


Vick has recently agreed to partner with the Humane Society of the United States in a program aimed at putting an end to the “sport” of dogfighting.   You can say this is a self-serving ploy on his part, aimed at getting back into the public’s good graces so that he can potentially earn back his “big ticket” advertising endorsements.  This may be true. None of us can really know his motives or how remorseful this man really feels, but I do know this. 


Having the media attention that Michael Vick draws being aimed at such a tragically wrong social pastime can not hurt the drive to stop the dog fighting rings.  So if this man is sincere, and if he does do more than lip service or the odd public appearance for Humane Society, I feel we as dog lovers should support his efforts for the good of the dogs.  


Vick was an idiot, he showed very poor judgement when he got involved in Pit Bull fighting, but perhaps there is a silver lining for the dogs that can be saved because this moronic jock got caught.  I believe in second chances, but more importantly I believe that letting Vick fade away as a cast off of society can not do those dogs still trapped in dog fighting rings nearly as much good as having him rise again to star status. He can keep a spot light on a worthwhile cause as he climbs that very large hill of redemption that lays ahead of him.  


The hell this man created for those dogs is almost unforgivable, but lets look at what good can come from his forgiveness. Yes I am an optimist. 

Today I am grateful for all of the second chances I have been extended in my life.


  1. Julia Lane says:
    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 1:44pm

    Susan, thanks for encouraging thoughtful discussion on this controversial issue. One of my friends, Roo Yori, has a Vick dog named Hector. You might be interested in Roo’s unique perspective on Vick:


    Roo is an international and world champion flying disc handler with his other pit bull, Wallace. (See videos at http://www.wallacethepitbull.com). Their accomplishments are especially impressive in a sport dominated by herding breeds. Despite his rough start in life, I know that with Roo’s guidance, Hector will be another amazing ambassador for this unfairly maligned breed.


  2. Pam says:
    Friday, August 21, 2009 at 11:59am

    I wanted to share letter from Ed Sayres of the ASPCA as to why they choose not to partner with Vick :


  3. Michele A says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 3:41pm

    My feeling is that Michael Vick should be donating his huge salary to the Humane societies….I find what he did unexcusable…..when I see him all I think about is those poor suffering animals, I feel he’s only sorry because he got caught.


  4. Arlyn Sigeti-Lucken says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 1:12pm

    After listening to Vick on various interviews, I do not believe he is in any way sorry for what he did, or remorseful. He is sorry he got caught, sorry that he was in prison, and sorry he missed out on millions of dollars. After a few months of him playing with the Eagles, especially if the team does well, people will forget about all of this They will only remember what a good football player he is. He will go on being the thug we all know he really is. My punishment for him would be to put him in an arena with about 50 dog loving middle linebackers and tell them to have at him.


  5. Patty Worthington says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 10:02am

    I don’t really know what is right or wrong in this situation. First, only Michael Vick knows if he is remorseful for what he did or if he’s remorseful because he got caught. I take issues with professional sports as it is–our teachers get paid squat but you can be a professional athlete with no brains or morals and get paid millions. I do not think Michael Vick deserves the compensation that he will be getting. I do hope that his story has brought dog fighting into the public eye and people are more knowledgeable about what goes on. But I think it’s also unrealistic to think that the people out there still dog fighting will suddenly develop a conscience.

    That said, I agree with Andrea’s post. Read the book Slaughterhouse (which I read after Susan recommended Skinny Bitch) and you will realize that there are horrors going on in slaughterhouses every day. Those animals are being wronged just as much as Michael Vick’s dogs were. We are all sentient beings and all animals deserve our respect.

    Not only will I not support the meat market anymore, I will not support the NFL or any other professional sports!!! I’ll put my money where my mouth is!


  6. Susan says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 8:29am

    Thanks James for pointing that out. I got my information from two on line articles one called them just the “Humane Society” the other that refered to them as “American’s largest group protecting animals.” I guess I my brain subconsciously added “American” in front of it–which is the oldest established protection group. The PR director for the AHS sent me an email pointing out my mistake as well. I do apologize if I have caused confusion.


  7. James says:
    Thursday, August 20, 2009 at 12:31am

    Minor correction: your post says “Vick has recently agreed to partner with the American Humane Society in a program aimed at putting an end to the “sport” of dogfighting. ” Vick is in fact partnering with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).

    And they’re made for each other.

    I found BAD RAP’s recent commentary particularly thoughtful:


  8. Andrea says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:10pm

    I like worms. I like worms in cans. I’m a new vegan so I don’t eat anything even close to worms anymore. We became vegan immediately after watching a PETA video about the treatment of animals in slaughterhouses.

    I’m not a politically charged person. I don’t know enough about politics to argue about it or have a really strong stand – I spend all my extra time playing with the dogs instead of reading world news. I think this issue is just waiting to explode – like political affairs. Personally I don’t care about Clinton’s sex life. I did like the Eagles though (notice DID) and am very grateful that the Dolphins didn’t sign him.

    So many great points of view here. I agree with Julian, who said that other athletes, lawyers, doctors, etc. lose their career entirely from one misstep or lapse in judgment. I’m not sure Vick should be playing in the NFL again – especially so soon.

    I also believe in second chances and doing your time, then moving on with your life. I think the issue is more with the time he was given. Murderers should get life. Take a life, give a life.

    Back to being a vegan…people eat meat that’s served up in grocery stores of beaten, hormone-juiced, sick, abused, tortured, cancerous chickens, cows, pigs, etc.

    Even if you choose to turn a blind eye to those facts, consider what eating that meat is doing to your body? There is no doubt that mistreatment of animals in slaughterhouses is a more widespread issue then dog fighting. If Vick’s disgusting story and rise back to stardom in the NFL brings light into the dog fighting arena and maybe even the mistreatment of animals in every single town in the country that supports the mistreatment of animals by buying meat at the grocery store (instead of from a local ethical farmer) – more power to him. I’m all about the light being shone – not so picky about who turns it on.

    Harming animals is disgusting. There is so much change possible by bringing a bunch of pissed off people together to stand for animal rights and ethical treatment of animals.

    Thanks Susan. I’m inspired by a little controversy! 🙂 Tracy – your Staffy rocks!


  9. Renee says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 7:55pm

    I liked Gail’s start to her post…

    “Michael Vick returning to NFL? Absolutely never.

    Michael Vick campaigning against dog fighting? Good – it may do good.”

    Question: If he was NOT returning to the NFL….would he be campaigning against dog fighting and helping the cause?

    For the record: I believe in some second chances.


  10. pogonip says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 7:47pm

    Susan, thanks for another viewpoint on Michael Vick. I blogged back in January about this issue and my feelings haven’t changed–but at least your perspective on a possible silver lining to this debacle will help me cope with his presence in the NFL. Sigh, it’s a funny old world.


  11. Zoey Trenkle says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 7:24pm

    I like the response by Susan at 4:26pm August 19 (that would be a Susan other than Susan G.). You separated out the multiple issues people have been discussing — issues that are inter-related but may have different origins and different solutions. With issues this complex and widespread, chances are that the best path of lasting improvement and enlightenment may look absolutely nothing like we might surmise. Right or wrong, the NFL has given Michael Vick an opportunity to change lives. He is at a very important fork in the road in his life. If change is possible, I hope he receives the kind of support he needs to rehabilitate, become a better man and make a significant impact in the fight against animal abuse.


  12. Emma says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 6:33pm

    What is really important imho is that we keep this issue in the forefront. This case was unprecedented in that the dogs were given their own “second chances” and allowed the chance to be rehabilitated and rehomed. This is because of the media storm surrounding this case and the fact that the general public FINALLY got on the side of the true victims…the Pit Bulls. We need to keep reminding the public and the politicians about the DOGS of the Michael Vick case and do so everytime breed bans get proposed. We CANNOT allow another Ontario to happen!


  13. Susan says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 4:26pm

    Thanks Susan for your thoughtful perspective. I am amazed ah how much everyone seems to know about Michael Vick and his “real”thoughts and motives. And although I am able professionally to make clinical diagnoses, I would never presume to do so for someone I had never met and made an in person assessment. He got his job back because that was his job. If he had been a plumber or bus driver, I hope he would get that job back. Our system, says he has done his time. I agree that what he did was horrible. It is a whole other issue that sport and entertainment “stars” make multimillion dollar salaries and that teachers, nurses, dog shelter workers, etc do not. This is part of our political, economic culture…that we as consumers can effect.
    I believe in compassion, forgiveness(not forgetfulness) and second chances. In addition I believe in spending my time in doing something that will make a difference(small as it may be). I hope everyone reading Susan’s blog takes the time today(and tomorrow) to DO something .


  14. Marilyn says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 4:13pm

    I am glad for a reasonable forum to discuss instead of at the bottom of articles in the Philadelphia newspapers. While this does draw attention to dogfighting and its horrible results, it also speaks to some young people who might consider it to say, well I can do it and get away with it. Even if caught, “I’ll get a second chance like Mike Vick.” In fact, just days after Mike Vick’s signing by the Philadelphia Eagles, a young man dressed all in black broke into our local Humane League (we are about 1 1/2 hours from Philly) and stole a young 7 month old intact pit bull male who was slated to be neutered and adopted. I can only guess what his intentions are with this dog since he didn’ t try to adopt it through proper channels. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Dogfighting disgusts those of us who love dogs and we might see the silver lining, but I think it sends the wrong message to those who think about getting into dogfighting. Vick does deserve a second chance, but not in the NFL where he makes millions. That should be a privilege. Sorry to say that the team that I have supported for over 50 years is no longer going to get my money or attention.


  15. lynne brubaker says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 3:21pm

    “Antisocial Personality Disorder is chronic, beginning in adolescence
    and continuing throughout adulthood. There are ten general

    not learning from experience
    no sense of responsibility
    inability to form meaningful relationships
    inability to control impulses
    lack of moral sense
    chronically antisocial behavior
    no change in behavior after punishment
    emotional immaturity
    lack of guilt

    There are many theories about the cause of Antisocial Personality
    Disorder including experiencing neglectful parenting as a child, low
    levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, and belief that
    antisocial behavior is justified because of difficult circumstances.
    Psychotherapy, group therapy, and family therapy are common
    treatments. The effects of medical treatment are inconclusive.
    Unfortunately, most people with Antisocial Personality Disorder
    reject treatment. Therefore, recovery rates are low”. end quote


  16. Andrea says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 1:30pm

    I know for myself I hate to think about animal abuse of any kind. I hate to watch the commercials we have for the SPCA or the WWF. I can’t stand seeing the pictures of the abused dogs and cats, the bears and all the other animals they show. Whenever they come on my Mom tells me to change the channel. It makes me feel so sad and hopeless to know animal abuse is going on at every moment somewhere and it’s so easy to just live in denial which is the worst thing that could be allowed to happen.

    Everytime Michael Vick’s name is mentioned it forces me again to face the reality of the situation for many animals in the world, it puts it right back in my face. I’m sure for many other people it is the same. Anything that keeps animal abuse in the news and in peoples minds must have some merits. It is all too easy for people to live in denial when it comes to this issue and if people are not acknowledging it and talking about it everyday nothing will change.

    Michael Vick could have gone to prison for 15 years but if he did would we be talking about this right now or a year from now or would it have stopped one other person from running a dogfighting ring? (these are not normal thinking human beings and they don’t think they’ll get caught either – longer prison sentences are not likely to be much of a deterrent) If he was doing community service in an animal shelter out of the spotlight would we be talking about it?

    I sincerely hope he discovers the error of his ways but I am doubtful that he has or will. So given that I’m not sure the best way to use him to further the cause of abused animals everywhere. I do know that “out of sight is out of mind” so removing him from the public spotlight may not be in the best interests of these animals. My heart is not at all confused about what he deserves but my mind struggles to decide on what would be the best way to use him to serve the cause.



  17. Michelle says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 1:01pm

    Well you sure opened a can of worms.

    I did watch, my stomach was turned, I did cry and still do cry. Unless you literally saw his property or his dogs, what more inside information could you have than we as Joe well informed public have not seen.

    Unfortunately I am very passionate about dogs. To see this blatant disrespectful abuse of a living creature is appalling, hurtful and criminal to say the very least.

    To see Vick come back to football and earn the kind of money I will never dream of sickens me. His actions are not of a person with any team spirit. He fights to win, puts others in jeopardy to win, win the almighty buck. He actually has a girlfriend, wow, what does that say of her. He has a long road ahead of him to pay his debt to society. I really dont think he gets it what he did was so horrific. Sadly what does it say of Football and people that dont have any morals that they would prefer to win a football game than hold their heads high and not allow a person like him to play with them. He hasnt begun to pay his debt back.

    Remember, he electrocuted dogs, took their teeth out, this is not just a little dog fight. Wow, forgive, maybe, but surely, not so fast.


  18. Gay H says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 12:47pm

    Thank you Susan for a very brave and well-considered post on an extremely complex subject. Thank you for bringing an important subject to your blog to let us weigh in. And thank you for the courage to state publicly a ‘controversial’ opinion.

    You are a remarkable individual to focus on outcomes for dogs so intently without a desire to judge or extract revenge. I’ve yet to decide where I come down on this issue, but I’m tending to agree with your assessment. It’s a best case scenario and not out of the realm of possibility. Let’s hope this is indeed the silver lining for dogs and we turn a corner on this horrific practice.


  19. Mikey says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 12:25pm

    I do not believe Vick should be back in football. What this tells young boys, who do look up to footballs stars as role models, is that money and fame can pretty much get you out of anything. Plus, as of last week, he is claiming he wasn’t really responsible, so he is not actually repentant.

    I find it very interesting and very telling that the Oakland Raiders, who desperately need a decent player of any kind, were not interested. Oakland is, of course, the home of BADRAP.

    If you are so inclined, you may write to the corporate sponsors of the Eagles. A blogger is keeping a list of sponsors at foryourentertainment.blogspot.com.

    Yes, in my old age, I have become a little more politically active. I used to be oblivious, but now I guess I am a ticked off old person. And get off my lawn.


  20. Sarah Marinacci says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 11:30am

    I completely agree with you Susan. Let the man at least try to prove himself to the world that he many have changed. What he did to those dogs was unforgivable, but he may have learned his lesson or he may not have. No one knows what it is going on through his mind. All we have to be thankful for is that the dogs were taken away before anymore harm could have been done and given to loving homes.
    I watched the Dog Town episode about the Micheal Vick dogs being saved from that horrible place and turned into wonderful, trusting dogs. It made me cry of happiness to see that some one gave those dogs a chance and helped them get over their problems when other people kept saying that they were not fit to be pets. Those people were proven wrong.
    You always have to remember it’s what’s best for the dog and not the person. Hopefully Vick has learned his lesson and will continue to help with the Humane Societies. We never know, he may the man to completely destroy the “sport” of dog fighting and we can put this all behind us.
    Maybe one day people will understand that dogs do feel things and are not things for just your own benefit.
    I hope I didn’t go off topic to much.


  21. Kym Williams says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 11:25am

    Well, since you asked…..
    I love that he is back in football and the spotlight. I cannot hear the man’s name without thinking about the pain and horror he inflicted on those dogs. And, I suspect, neither can anyone else. Every single play he makes, every time we see his face or hear his name, we also hear “dog fighting”.

    While I’m far from perfect, I don’t really believe people change. If he didn’t notice that electrocuting and killing a pet for not winning in a ring was abhorrent behavior prior to his conviction, he won’t now. He was an idiot then and still is today.
    However, he is a walking billboard for animal rights and abuse.

    Finally, do we really think there are NO dog lovers playing the game of football? My bet is the man will take a few hits of his own while on the field. What comes around, goes around.


  22. Bonny says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 11:06am

    All of these comments indicate a strong level of emotion on this topic, deservedly so. The fact is though, he served his time in prison — paid the dues that the law says are requisite for the crime(s) he committed. If you feel so strongly about this, please direct your anger to reforming the judicial system that allows this. Read the laws, think about what changes you would like and start a movement to effect those changes. We most likely will never see animal abuse raised to the level of human abuse in this country, but we can strengthen the existing laws.

    I agree with Susan that the value in this case is the public awareness of organized animal abuse (let’s not forget cock fighting, caged hunts, feedlots, slaughterhouses and other atrocities to life). In my perpetual optimism (increasing cynical as time goes on though), I believe Vick may have opened his eyes to what he did. I would like to see him commit a significant portion of his unconscionably high salary (>25%) to animal rights causes — walk the walk, man.


  23. Wajoma Smith says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:57am

    Agreed Helen … And what he did was a long term way of life, that consisted of systematic abuse of defenceless animals… Many footballers lose their career’s because of one drunken incident, or a momentary lapse in judgement … What Vick was doing, was far more insidious than that …


  24. Helen Verte says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:51am

    Susan, I respect you as a dog trainer and responsible dog owner. I love your blog and the way you respect your dogs. So this is why it was very hard for me to read this blog post. I couldn’t get through every paragraph because there is too too much inside me that is opposing the premise of this post. As I skimmed, I held onto this particular part to comment on. And will leave the rest of my feelings and thoughts aside. Vick and his viciousness are all too disturbing to me.

    “So if this man is sincere, and if he does do more than lip service or the odd public appearance for Humane Society, I feel we as dog lovers should support his efforts for the good of the dogs.”

    The bottom line for me is there are too many “if’s” there. I cannot fathom “support” for Vick’s efforts and “good of the dogs” in one sentence. It’s hard to take. As a dog lover, I could never ever support the “efforts” of Vick. I detest him in so many ways, and think of the dogs that he electrocuted and abused and the frenzy he must have gotten into doing what he did. It’s so repulsive to me there is no way that I, an extreme dog lover, could ever “support” anything from Vick or a man like him. Ever. I don’t believe he is changing from within. I believe he is what he is, was caught, and is using any leverage he can to get back into wealth and the limelight.


  25. Lisa says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:48am

    Why is someone willing to give an aggressive animal with a difficult, abusive past an opportunity to change?

    Because, sometimes, a dog given such a chance can be rehabilitated. Sometimes, sadly, it cannot. But, where the resources are available to do so, I believe that most people in rescue prefer to provide that chance.

    So, why would we not give other *human beings* the opportunity to redeem themselves?

    To be sure, there are those with an inherent, irredeemable, disregard for life. But, if someone IS capable of learning to be a better human being (and society can reasonably assure that the individual is not in a position to cause harm again), then I support the attempt.

    Michael Vick is fortunate to be a talented athlete. But, he was also raised in an environment that places little value on human life, much less animals. For many people, the chance to escape that environment – whether it be through athletics, academics or some other lucky break – is
    enough to change the believes and behaviors that are common in difficult, dangerous, and abusive environments. Unfortunately, it is not always so easy to slip away from that life.

    Why do women stay with abusive husbands? Why doesn’t the dog bite when the child kicks it? To varying degrees, every single one of us maintains thoughts and behaviors that are not actually beneficial to us…or to others.

    Maybe it’s a naïve wish but perhaps Vick’s “superstar” status can demonstrate an alternative, effective way that the corrections system could work for *more* offenders, not just the ones who are in the spotlight.

    Punishment has a place in dog training and in society. But, on its own, it is not the most effective way to train a dog. And, on its own, I don’t believe it’s an effective way to change a person. But, providing the opportunity to make amends and the education to change situations and circumstances can change someone’s life. That chance can benefit the individual. But, perhaps more significantly, being willing to *provide* that chance re-affirms our own humanity and benefits society.


  26. Gail says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:44am

    Michael Vick returning to NFL? Absolutely never.

    Michael Vick campaigning against dog fighting? Good – it may do good.

    Anything else about Michael Vick is IMO between him and his maker, including any real or pretend repentance, unless it’s a crime, then it’s between us & him too.

    Why isn’t dog fighting a serious enough felony crime that he is still in jail?

    The bigger question to me is what is a lethal scumbag like him already doing out of jail anyway?


  27. Wajoma Smith says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:41am

    I could type for ages about all the things I feel about this, but I’ll try to keep it short(ish)

    I’m not American, and if Vick hadn’t been caught abusing dogs, I would never have heard of him. We here in Australia have our own elite sportsmen who do the wrong thing (lately, there’s been a lot of treating women very badly) – these people are role models – they’re who boys in particular look up to and wish to emulate.

    I think that allowing Vick to resume a career in his chosen sport gives the message that its only a ‘little bit wrong’ to do what he did – that yeah, you’ll get in trouble, but it’ll only be for a little while, then everything will go back to normal – maybe things’ll even be better than before!

    The community work that Vick is doing – would he do it, if there was no way he’d be allowed on the football field again? – doubtful

    its a penance for a boo-boo … that’s how it looks from the outside, and that’s how many impressionable youth will see it. He’s still be the cool (and tough – because doesn’t fighting pit-bulls mean you’re tough?) guy, that he was before.

    If he never saw the inside of a sports stadium again, he’d probably still have enough money from previous earnings and prior sponsorship to see himself and his family live comfortably for the rest of his life … which is more than a lot of respectable hard-working families have these days …

    He’s got off lightly .. letting him return to his sport (and future earnings) seems like a slap in the face to the animals who suffered under his hand, and a golden handshake to him …


  28. Tracy says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:25am

    I don’t suggest it to help Vick “pay for this crimes”, I suggest it to help the dogs who need any help they can get, and to set a better example for the youth who are undoubtedly watching all this go down as they make decisions, consciously or subconsciously, about their future. And the media coverage will only help these animals. Clearly Vick will be paying for his crimes in a different way – Karma is a bitch. Working in a shelter at least is a consequence for his actions. Or working in any community service capacity, doesn’t have to be with the animals he tortured – there is your second chance, pal, work your way back into the good graces of society and let us show our kids that there are, indeed, true consequences for your actions on a long-term scale.

    I personally don’t give a hoot about how Vick feels or what he cares about. I care about the dogs who need our help NOW (and his time and money are a great way to help them) and I care about the lesson that is being taught to the kids who look up to Vick and are weighing the consequences (or lack thereof) of his heinous crime as they choose their own path in the world.


  29. Joy says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:19am

    Susan, I absolutely adore you as a dog trainer and agility handler. But, originally being from Philadelphia, I feel as though I must chime in here. YES, absolutely, folks deserve second chances … and even more so, YES, thank goodness Vick’s original SUPERSTAR status made the very real problem of dogfighting a household discussion and perhaps, ironically, will aid in ending this horrific “sport”. However, that said, earning pro-ball size salaries and being able to maintain a spot in society with “hero” status to our young citizens is, in my humble opinion, is a PRIVILEGE. I feel Vick lost this privilege the day he was convicted/admitted to the horrible things he has done. I don’t really care what Vick’s motivation is for his newly turned “leaf”, I think his debt to society in general is still unpaid. By allowing him to go on and possibly regain his previous status, I feel we are merely slapping him for any wrong he has done. I am even more hurt that my beloved Eagles are the ones who gave Vick this opportunity. My husband and I will never support the Green and White again and my dogs (Triton, Oliver, and Hunter) thouroughly enjoyed the Eagles jerseys that I allowed them to DESTROY this past week in crazy games of tug!! I appreciate your words and can respect you very much for stating them … but some actions don’t warrant second chances for privileges as great as being a Media, Public, National superstar/hero … in my humble opinion. The media has compared Andy Reid’s decision to “help” Vick to his own sons’ recent legal dilemmas regarding drugs … and while I can sympathathize with Andy Reid’s potential rationale, I disagree that the torture/maiming/killing of defenseless animals can be compared to drug charges. And my opinion stretches to other pro-athletes that have been allowed comebacks after rape and assault charges. The beating, maiming, raping, and/or killing of any being (human and/or animal) should be enough to take the rockstar status away from these once-heros. Again, this is just the personal thoughts of a VERY hurt Philadelphia fan.


  30. Grisha says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:16am

    I’m taking a wait-and-see approach on this. I think I understand enough about social psychology to know that it doesn’t take an evil person to do an evil deed, if there are social pressures. I have not walked in his shoes and don’t know what motivated him, how he justified this to himself.

    I do know that he is at least saying he messed up (yeah, BIG time) and that to avoid cognitive dissonance he may begin to believe that, even if he doesn’t already. This could be a good wedge to help us stop or slow down illegal dog fighting.

    I am the first to say that a fighting dog does so because of his situation, not because he is inherently evil. I will work to rehab such a dog. If he lacts ‘normal’ will I say he’s faking it, and put him to sleep anyway? Of couse not. So I shall give Vick one chance to prove he means well before I decide.

    Now, will I still be careful with a rehabbed fighting dog, knowing the damage he’s created? Heck yes. But I still hope that his rehabilitation is real and complete.


  31. Julian Data says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:09am

    Second chance in freedom, sure. Second chance in getting his career back? NO. Why? A convicted policeman, lawyer, doctor, nurse, or anyone in a profession can not get their job back. You’re black listed pretty much thanks to your record. Vick lost his priviledge at his job at that IMHO.

    The NFL has no morals and will do anything to get their ratings and the “good ole days” back. I guess they are teaching if you are a PRO athlete, you can pretty much get away with anything. I bet that looks good to the kids.

    Another thing, I didn’t buy Vick’s apology because it was a ‘monkey see, monkey do’ kind of thing because someone else popular apologized and everyone bought into it. Am I highly skeptical of all people? No. Vick grew up around the area I did, he knew very well what he was doing.


  32. jenn says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 10:08am

    *He deserves to work in the kennels of the ASPCA in NYC, where he will see the results of his actions on a day-to-day basis as he attempts to care for the the dozens of pit bulls that have been abused and have a dim future. He deserves to look into the eyes of these tortured souls every single day and care for their wounds, try to heal their spirits and be by their side as they are euthanized because either they cannot be physically healed or mentally healed. *

    Having him “pay for his crimes ” is this manner just seems useless. We forget that he abused, tortured and killed dogs for years. Do you think that sentencing him to work at shelters is going to make a difference? He didn’t care about what the animals were going through before, why would he care now? This type of sentence would seem even more rediculous than allowing him to play pro ball again. He doesn’t care for the dogs, so why don’t we make sure that he can help the people who do? The reccomnedation of having him donate a portion of his earnings is a very good idea. Just wish the judge would have thought of that……


  33. Tracy says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 9:56am

    Sure, everyone deserves a second chance, and Vick deserves a second chance – but not as a multi-millionaire athlete playing in the spotlight.

    He deserves to work in the kennels of the ASPCA in NYC, where he will see the results of his actions on a day-to-day basis as he attempts to care for the the dozens of pit bulls that have been abused and have a dim future. He deserves to look into the eyes of these tortured souls every single day and care for their wounds, try to heal their spirits and be by their side as they are euthanized because either they cannot be physically healed or mentally healed.

    I have met these dogs, worked with and cared for these dogs, fed them their last meals then wept for them when they were euthanized. I have worked with the police that have tried to stop the people who are doing this. It is an experience that is so sad that it defies description unless you have been there first-hand.

    Michael Vick is one of the people that put them there. Having seen his recent interviews, he does show any sign of caring about the animals or the fact that he was complicit in the torture and murder of these animals. He shows some remorse for the loss of his career and money, and that his family went through some tough times. He is not remorseful for his actions, he is remorseful because he got caught. And it is obvious in his remarks and face.

    A short prison stint and then a resumption of a professional career in athletics sets a pathetic example for the young boys and young men of this world. Really, what was the consequence for Vick’s actions? At least Madoff is losing everything he has and going to prison for the rest of his life – that’s a pretty fitting consequence.

    I have owned a pit bull and I currently own a dog that is, basically, a small pit bull mix (staffy). These brilliant dogs will do anything you ask them to do, including fight to the death or cuddle with you on the couch. Their cleverness, strength and tenacity make them a prime breed for exploitation.

    And people like Vick, who get busted for fighting pit bulls, are also a contributing factor to the ridiculous breed bans that plague Ontario and other places throughout the world.

    Is Vick’s return to the NFL going to open up a new era for dog fighting? Ha, that’s laughable. If Vick had received a lengthy prison sentence, then lengthy community service, then a limited career that a felon deserves? OK, now we are on to something. After spending a couple of years at the “A” earning the pitiful salary paid to their compassionate staff, then maybe Vick can try out for a football team. Work your way back up, buddy, show us that you are worthy of the ‘hero worship’ that comes from playing in the NFL. Vick is certainly no hero to me.

    And for me, the true test of Vick would be if he actually gave several million of his new salary to the ASPCA to make a better life for these dogs and to help end brutally towards dogs. Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen, is it? He is gonna pay off his own financial issues to make a better life for HIMSELF.

    A few TV spots and some pathetic 60 Minutes interviews are what we are going to get, then it will fade away as if it never happened. This is typical of culture in professional sports and in North America in general. Pathetic.


  34. Susan says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 9:33am

    And that is what makes controversy. Thank you both for your unique perspectives.


  35. Barrie says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 9:18am

    Susan I have the utmost respect for you as a person, trainer and competitor but I have to say that if you did not force yourself to watch the footage of what was done to those dogs it is just not okay to say “he deserves a second chance because everyone deserves a second chance.”

    The full footage will make any normal, healthy person physically ill beyond crying at the abuses those poor animals suffered. The fact that Mr. Vick not only did not stop those abuses but endorsed and participated in them makes him, in my opinion, just not a normal, healthy person.

    Whether or not any of us believe he has been rehabilitated, should his behavior be rewarded in this way? He has not actually worked on a new behavior, just said that he will do so. Just thinking from a training perspective, he did a horrible horrible thing got a fairly mild dose of positive punishment (losing some money and spending some time in jail) then is moving straight back to huge amounts of positive reinforcement (with some negative reinforcement in bad publicity) without having performed any behavior to earn that positive reinforcement.


  36. Ann Hopp says:
    Wednesday, August 19, 2009 at 9:08am

    Controversial yes, but also well thought out and correct. Ghandi says that violence begins where knowledge ends. Obviously, Vick had no knowledge, and just as easily seen, is that you do. Your knowledge of human motivation and learning allows you to eschew violence – Ghandi would have been well pleased.


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