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Karen B. London
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Michael Vick Has a New Dog
Controversy is guaranteed
Michael Vick tweeted this photo last week, showing a box of dog biscuits on his table.

When Michael Vick mentioned over the summer in an interview with Piers Morgan that he would like to have another dog someday, many people reacted with concern and even revulsion. (Vick served 18 months in federal prison on dog fighting charges. He was banned from having a dog during the three years of his probation that followed his release from prison, but that ban expired in July 2012.) Vick told Morgan that he would want another dog for the sake of his children, saying, “I can’t take that dream away from them. That’s selfish on my behalf . . . Got to find a way to make it right.”

Last week, Vick tweeted a picture with the caption “we workin’” of his daughter studying while he reviewed film of a recent game. On the table was a box of dog biscuits, which prompted speculation that he had a dog. Though he retweeted with a different photo and initially refused to talk about it, he has since released a statement through his publicist confirming that his family does, in fact, have a dog. The type, age, and sex of the dog were not revealed.

The statement says, “Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family.” It also states that he will continue to work towards animal welfare and helping promote positive change. He acknowledged that he understands that his decision to have a dog will elicit strong emotions in many people. He has often noted that he knows many people will never forgive him for what he did during the time that he bankrolled and was actively involved in dog fighting. Like a typical statement by celebrity publicists, it comes off as attempt at damage control with the obvious effort to say all the right things.

As in any controversy, there’s more than one side. The perspective supportive of this development is that Vick is legally allowed to be a dog guardian after having paid his debt to society, he is certain to be heavily scrutinized with regard to his dog, and the kids are not paying for the sins of their father with regards to being dogless. The other perspective, the one not supportive of Vick being a dog guardian, is that it’s hard to know if he has changed and will do right by this dog, there is the risk that the dog will be mistreated, and that he seems to have kept it a secret, only slipping up with a photo that showed the biscuits. (Of course, it’s easy to see why he wasn’t eager to ignite more controversy, which could easily explain why he hadn’t gone public before.

I feel uneasy about Vick being a dog guardian, though I desperately hope that it will be a positive experience for the dog as well as his children. How do you feel about it?

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Karen B. London, PhD, is a Bark columnist and a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist specializing in the evaluation and treatment of serious behavior problems in the domestic dog.

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Submitted by AegeanBreeze | October 15 2012 |

I believe with the scrutiny that he will be under, this dog will be well cared for, pampered, etc. That's my hope anyway. I doubt he feels any differently about dogs than he did back when he was abusing them. That sort of thing doesn't change (in my opinion). I would bet he feels pretty indifferent. What I worry about is what he'll do once he's out of the limelight of the NFL, say in 5 to 10 years from now (or longer). If his money dries up, he knows how to make more. He may not ever keep them on his property again, but he'll find loopholes. That's what I worry about. Yes, he paid a penalty by going to prison and now doing Humane Society work, but I'm VERY skeptical of any real change in behaviour or heart on his part. I hope he proves me wrong.

Submitted by Phil M | October 15 2012 |

Leslie Smith's response was the best I've seen. Here's what she says in part: "Vick’s children deserve love, attention, food, clothing, shelter. But saying they deserve a dog is a little like saying they deserve a private-school education or the opportunity to travel the world or a giant jungle gym in the backyard. These are privileges. Some kids have them, some don’t. In the real world, outside of professional football, want does not equal get. There are all sorts of reasons a child may grow up without a pet in the home. Because your dad had a long history of torturing animals would seem to be among the most logical."
http://dogtime.com/confirmed-michael-vick-has-a-dog-issues-statement.html

Submitted by Anonymous | October 15 2012 |

I live in the Philadelphia area and I have seen and read many interviews with him, whether it be about football, dogs, what have you. Vick does seem different. More mature. When he made his apology for the dog fighting shortly after he was signed by the Eagles he sounded sincere and contrite. People can change their ways, and I hope for the sake of his dog that this is the case. Time will tell.

Submitted by chickwdog | October 15 2012 |

I work in the prison system and I can assure you dog fighters are taught from an early age that dog fighting is a way of life. Vick knew it was illegal to fight dogs, yet he continued to do it after making his millions. Because it's what he knows, it's ingrained in him. Did he change, my personal and professional opinion is no. He's learned to be more cautious about what he says and what he does in the public eye. He knows if he "plays the game" of "I've changed my ways" is what the public wants/needs to hear then all is quiet on his end. But I agree, that time will tell when it comes to this dog. The public will be watching him closely so if he does fail, it will be national news.

Submitted by Anonymous | October 15 2012 |

I love animals and it makes me angry for someone to mistreat one. I do agree every child should get to have a dog. I think Michael Vick deserves a second chance and I am sure the dog is loved. He has done his time for dogfighting which is a sickening thing to do but maybe he can bring awareness to the problem of dogfighting.

Submitted by Anonymous | October 15 2012 |

what kind of dog? I think that will say a lot.

Submitted by Anonymous | October 16 2012 |

I hope and pray he has changed, for his kids and for the dog as well. Hopefully, he'll hook up with a dog trainer that teaches positive reinforcement techniques, and he will be a better person regarding animals.

Submitted by Karen London | October 16 2012 |

I have not yet seen any information about the dog in terms of age, breed, sex, or name. When I do, I will share what I learn!

Submitted by Dave | October 20 2012 |

While we some may feel Michael has paid his dues, we are not the ones taking the risk here.Unfortunately , the one taking the biggest risk has no say in the matter : the Dog. It is the Vick's dog who is now taking the risk every day for the rest of his life.
Perhaps, a guardian could be assigned to the dog with weekly visitation rights to monitor the dog's welfare.It would seem to me this is the least we could do...We owe it to the dog.

Submitted by judy | August 22 2014 |

I understand that his children's dog is a Belgian Shepherd (Malinois). I have always loved this breed. They are wonderful dogs and very loyal if raised properly. They are also used as police dogs. I think M. Vick chose this dog for himself. Why not get the children a lab or a beagle? A dog that is less aggressive. In my opinion someone who could torture dogs the way he did has serious mental issues and has no feelings for the animals at all. He should never be able to own one. I would like to see pictures and updates on this dog. I would also like to know how the children feel about the dog.

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