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Michael Vick: It's not ok

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The Road Ahead for Michael Vick

After careful consideration, we have decided to speak out now about Michael Vick because of the special circumstances involving the ASPCA. Several months ago, Mr. Vick's PR representatives approached the ASPCA to help educate America about the heinous act of dog fighting following his release from prison. We were the first animal welfare organization given the opportunity to work with Mr. Vick but immediately turned him down due to the unique knowledge we had of his indescribable and barbaric acts of animal cruelty where he and his associates savagely electrocuted and beat dogs to death after they lost their brutal fights.

The ASPCA's general consultation and our specific role in processing the forensic evidence in this case were key elements that resulted in Mr. Vick and the three other defendants all pleading guilty to felony crimes. As such, this organization and I personally have seen the acts of cruelty committed by Mr. Vick first hand'acts so heinous that the public has never laid witness to them. And now that Mr. Vick has spoken out for the first time since his release from prison, the ASPCA wants to make clear why this organization chose not to partner with him in his supposed rehabilitation efforts. We are simply not convinced that Mr. Vick has demonstrated compassion toward animals as living beings or the necessary remorse for his criminal actions against them.

60 Minutes provided a convicted criminal a national platform to selfishly focus on his own recovery when, in fact, the animals, the victims who cannot speak for themselves, should have received the attention. CBS did a grave disservice to the animal welfare community by failing to show the ugly truth of Mr. Vick's actions and the horrors of dog fighting and animal cruelty in this country. The continued attention paid to Mr. Vick is only reinforcing that criminal behavior does not destroy fame and fortune.

The ASPCA works every day to prevent animal cruelty, in the absence of tougher, more consistent laws and lack of education and awareness. We serve as the animals' voice, as millions of animals suffer alone and in silence because they cannot speak out against their perpetrators. When a crime against animals is committed, the ASPCA's priorities are to build a sound case that results in successful prosecution of the perpetrators, as well as the rehabilitation of the victims. Our direct involvement in the Vick case yielded success in both areas, and in fact, we work every day to ensure perpetrators like him are behind bars.

Although Mr. Vick has served his time and is now entitled to employment, the ASPCA was strongly against him being able to immediately re-join the NFL, to play alongside highly paid elite athletes who are looked upon as our heroes and role models. Today, it is difficult to see him in the uniform of a Philadelphia Eagle because of the startling lack of judgment and moral character he has demonstrated over the past several years. It is questionable whether he will have any credibility as an educator on the dog fighting issue. The ASPCA welcomes a national conversation on animal cruelty and especially dog fighting, but questions Mr. Vick's ability to lead it. The ASPCA will heighten its efforts to bring this national travesty to the surface through meaningful education and discussion that brings the hard, cold sickening reality of a fight into stark relief for those who might wonder why all the fuss about a dog fight. A true national discussion would focus not on one man and his crimes, but on a nation that allows dog fighting to happen every day without a national outcry. This is where the ASPCA will focus its energies in the coming months.

Mr. Vick has indeed been given another chance to play football with the Philadelphia Eagles. It is important to state that the ASPCA is extremely disappointed that owner Jeff Lurie hired him for his team before it was clear that Mr. Vick has truly developed a sense of compassion for his victims, the animals whose lives were taken by him. The ASPCA believes in second chances'in redemption'but that second chance has to be earned through contrition, conversion to the cause of animal welfare and finally, through hard work. Mr. Vick has only now begun his journey toward a second chance. It will be a long and hard road for him, and while we wish him well, we also want to remind the nation that the work of ridding the nation of dog fighting is as compelling a story as one man's path to redemption. Let's not forget to focus on the animals, the crimes that are still being committed every day in the United States. What are we, as a nation, going to do about that? How are we going to express our outrage long past the first time Mr. Vick takes the field in Philadelphia?

Compassion for animals is the hallmark of the ASPCA and the ultimate message that we hope is gleaned from this horrific story. While this case has garnered the national spotlight because of Mr. Vick's notoriety, it is the end result that will matter most. Will Mr. Vick have learned something'and taken the opportunity he has been granted to impart to his legion of fans the importance of compassion toward animals? Certainly, only time will offer us an answer'but we will be watching.

Submitted by DogAndFootballFan at:July 31, 2011 03:06 AM
I actually found this to be an EXTREMELY balanced and well written article. I have found many animal rights activists to be hippie-like and unreasonable in their outlooks and comments. This artile intelligently comments on the crime and rehabilitation of dogfighting and Mike Vick. I agree with the aritcle. The man has a right to get a job, but that doesn't mean he gets instant love and adoration from animal lovers again. I also liked another comment I read about how these are pitbulls. The same way people with killer-instinct love violent sports (I'm one of them), I do see the difference of pit bull fighting than golden retriever fighting. It's in their nature. The heinousness of the crime is the disrespectful way he treated dogs. We have dominion over animals, and fighting may be across the line, but electrocutions and beatings are beyond the pale. I was satisfied with his conviction, punishment, and the role ASPCA took in bringing him to justice. An even handed approach, and not just being willing to throw a man's life away, while at the same time CONTINUING to hold hime accountable. Spokesman for not commiting the crime you just commited? I think not. I don't listen to dui convicts about not drinking and driving, either. Congratultions for speaking to doggie parents, who also take a larger context view of the world. Applaud your efforts, and WILL DONATE because of them.

Submitted by cathy at:July 10, 2011 01:56 PM
I have two small children to care for here, so my comments will be short and sweet. I applaud the ASPCA for not working with Micheal Vick. There are some actions you cannot be forgiven for, and what he did to those dogs be in that category. He is an absolutely disgusting human being, I think the Eagle's are a horrible team for hiring him, and I wish them nothing but misfortune. Hope they lose all their games! I used to take my children to Subway about twice a week, because I feel they offer healthier food than fast food places. No more!I threw out our Nike's and have replaced them with Asics! I cannot believe people who think what he did was no big deal! I happen to have a 16 year old pit bull, who is so wonderful with my kids. The breed is wonderful, unless treated poorly and taught to be mean.Like Vick did! I hope he has a life of misery, like he inflicted on those animals.

Submitted by Mari at:April 1, 2011 07:29 PM
I'm curious as to how ASPCA feels about the Humane Society of the US aka Wayne Pacelle's decision to support Micheal Vick? They are recommending that he be allwed to own a dog again. The clueless people who think he paid his "debt" obviously have NO CLUE the extent to which he harmed those poor animals, how involved he was, and how many actually suffered. If it had been children, most of you would be screaming for the death penalty. People who excuse his acts are as sick as he is...

Submitted by LadyIlea at:January 21, 2011 04:13 PM
Mr. Sayres: Thank you for this masterpiece of stating the feelings of so many people. Not every person is so blinded by the football hero worship of vick. You said it all and with so much class! Great piece!

Submitted by RAFFAELLA at:January 5, 2011 05:04 PM
I agree 100% that there should have been more broadcast on the horrendous crimes he committed against animals. The media should have portrayed him as the monster that he is, and not as a victim. He is far worse than an animal abuser, he is a sociopath. He should never be allowed to own any animal again. He is a pathetic excuse for a human being.

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