By Lisa Spector, Juilliard Graduate, Canine Music Expert and co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear.
Michael Vick has been in the news a lot lately, and it hasn’t been for throwing touchdown passes.
From 2001 to 2007, Michael Vick had been operating a dog fighting operation in Virginia, out of his 4,600 square foot home (one of many he owned). He had been breeding, training, and fighting Pit Bulls, which also meant he was responsible for inhumanely killing dogs that didn’t win (often they were hung, electrocuted, or their heads were smashed with a shovel before being buried alive), forcing female dogs into rape stands for breeding, starving dogs, injecting them with drugs harmful to their health, all while being seen as a superstar athlete that teenagers and adults idolized.
He was stripped of all of his endorsements in 2007, when he was arrested for running a dog fighting operation. Nike dropped him like a hot potato. He served a year and a half in prison followed by two months sentenced to home confinement in his Virginia mansion. 47 dogs involved in dog fighting at this Bad Newz Kennels learned to trust again. Many took painstakingly slow steps to get there. But, the rehabilitation of these loving, forgiving dogs was astounding. Several of them even went on to become therapy dogs.
If dogs can learn to forgive, why can’t humans? Has Michael Vick done anything to earn our forgiveness? Does he need to? Is he really sorry for the horrendous acts he committed against so many sweet, innocent dogs? Well, he did serve time in prison. But, prison is not known for rehabilitating criminals. Nike seems to think that he served his time and he’s earned their endorsement again. Subway too, as they awarded him sportsman of the year recently. And his most lucrative endorsement yet may be a $1.55 million dollar deal with MusclePharm. According to the Washington Post, Joseph Lawanson, director of team development for MusclePharm, confirmed that Vick is under consideration. “We don’t have any problem considering him at all,” Lawanson said. “And for us to consider him, we’re confident that he has rehabilitated himself.”
Next: What has Michael Vick done to redeem himself?
So, what makes them so confident? Exactly what has he done to rehabilitate himself? I haven’t seem him donate any of his endorsement money to helping dogs in need. Yes, he did join the HSUS in their “End Dog Fighting” campaign. But, when he speaks about his dog fighting history, it comes across as more of a politically correct statement to redeem himself to the public than a heartfelt statement of remorse. I can spot someone with a warm place in their hearts for dogs a million miles away, and he just doesn’t fall into that category in my book. I learned a lot more of the details around his involvement with dog fighting by reading The Lost Dogs: Michael Vick’s dogs and their tale of rescue and redemption by Jim Gorant than by any watered down statements coming from Vick. I just reviewed his 60 Minutes interview from 2009 and it still appears to me that he’s more sorry about disappointing others than about torturing, abusing, and killing dogs. I’m sure he feels regret when his daughter asks him if they can get a dog, as he has to say no. He’s not permitted to have one (at least for now). But, is he regretful because he’s disappointing her, or does he really think about all the dogs he tortured when he answers her?
Personally, I actually believe that all acts, no matter how horrendous, can be forgiven. However, I’m really struggling with forgiving Michael Vick, as I don’t see that he has done anything to show that he is truly sorry for his treatment of the dogs. I think he’s sorry he got caught and very sorry that he disappointed others of the human species. Of course, he says all the right words. But, I just don’t feel any heart behind them. I wrote about the Android Dog Fighting App, and even Vick spoke his message about this, asking the developers to take the app off the market. And it still came across as a marketing ploy.
What do you think? Has Michael Vick earned redemption? If not, is there anything he could do to redeem himself? What do you think about his recent endorsements? If you oppose Nike’s recent endorsement of him, sign the Care2 Petition Tell Nike: Drop Michael Vick. I just did. And thanks for voting and expressing your thoughts in a comment.
As co-founder of Through a Dog’s Ear, I am offering my Care2 readers a free download from our latest release, Music to Calm your Canine Companion, Vol. 3. Simply click here and enter your email address and a link to the free download will be delivered to your inbox for you and your canine household to enjoy.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison via flickr