Well, Michael Vick is a Philadelphia Eagle now, and despite protests from the team’s fans and other Philly residents, it looks like the team is committed to keeping him for the foreseeable future. The convicted dog torturer claims he’s paid his debt to society and deserves a second chance. He’s even committed to acting as a spokesperson for PETA.
“Second Chance” vs. “Multimillion Dollar NFL Contract”
I’m in favor of second chances. Many of my rescued pets received a second chance after being neglected or abused by humans. Michael Vick indeed served his jail sentence and suffered the loss of millions of dollars in sponsorships. He deserves a second chance at being a productive and law-abiding human being.
But does that mean he deserves another chance to play in the NFL? Hell, no. If he wants to start over as a used car salesman, a nurse, a biologist, a police dispatcher, or in some other career where he won’t be paraded across television screens every Sunday, that’s fine by me. But Michael Vick hasn’t earned a second chance to act as a role model for young football fans. Children need role models of impeccable character, not role models who claim they’ve turned over a new leaf after committing horrific crimes. Like it or not (and I don’t like it–athletes are not ideal role models under the best of circumstances), children look up to NFL players. Michael Vick has earned his freedom and a chance at a new career, but he hasn’t earned the millions of dollars, respect and role model status of an NFL player.
And About That PETA Spokesman Gig
It makes a good soundbite: “Michale Vick regrets crimes, will act as PETA spokesman.” But when you dig a little deeper, Michael Vick’s involvement with PETA proves he has not, in fact, turned into a dog lover who regrets torturing, drowning and electrocuting dogs. PETA advocates for the extermination of the very breed that Michael Vick abused, the American Pit Bull Terrier. Through the application of breed bans and mandatory spaying and neutering as well as organized euthanasia programs in shelters, PETA would like to see Pit Bulls disappear from the world for good.
Vick might impress me (but only a little) if he became an advocate for an organization that promotes the responsible ownership of the American Pit Bull Terrier and American Staffordshire Terrier. PETA, on the other hand, is not an organization that will earn him the respect of any informed dog lover.
I respect and admire many of PETA’s accomplishments, from convincing companies to use more humane slaughter technologies to forcing Petco to stop selling large parrots. But on the issue of responsible bully breed ownership, PETA’s ideas are unenlightened and cruel to both humans and pets. Pit Bulls can be wonderful, loyal pets and, when properly bred and trained, are among the most pleasant family dogs available. The extermination of this loving breed developed over centuries to serve as an all-purpose human companion is not a worthy goal. Michael Vick’s endorsement of PETA shows that the biggest lesson he’s learned from his conviction and jail sentence is, “Hire the right PR firm and you can get away with anything.”