Tag Archives: football

Society’s message: Vick simply tortured the wrong species

Image from Ology.com

People care more about the lives of dogs than humans. This is not rational, but it is true.

Now I probably love dogs for the same and/or similar reasons than the next person: They’re great companions, cute and have unique personalities. They are, without a doubt, the darlings of the pet world.

With that said, I can understand why people still hold a grudge against Michael Vick. What I can’t understand is the unapologetic hatred.

Traditionally rational people lose their collective shit when you bring up Vick. (Even in the sole context of a football game.) Said people become even more inflamed when you praise him.

But how can you praise someone who spent 21 months in prison for dog fighting? He killed dogs. He drown them if they failed to perform. Have you seen the pictures? You can still “let it go” after seeing a mangled dog?

Yes, I have. And, yes, I can. It’s called moving on.

The easy aside to this is to bring up Donte Stallworth, the Washington Redskins wide receiver who spent 30 days in jail for hitting and killing a pedestrian with his vehicle while driving drunk. He seems to fly relatively low on the radar. There’s virtually no outrage over this. Luckily for Stallworth he’s not a superstar in the league with a $100 million contract like Vick. Otherwise he might get a lot of unwanted attention.

What’s a man to do?

Admit it, dog lover. You want Michael Vick to suffer the same way he made those fighting pit bulls suffer. After four years you still want him beaten and drown in a wading pool. And if he survives that, you want him locked away for life so he can rot behind bars while being surrounded by cinder blocks. The ironic thing about this is the people who believe this should happen to Vick are no better than Michael Vick circa 2007. Those who still rail against Vick with their sick ambitions are no better of a person than Vick was during his conviction.

Image from Zimbio.com

Answer this: After serving 18 months in prison, six in a halfway house, losing out on his $100 million contract with the Atlanta Falcons, being thrust into our minds as public enemy number one while being judged in front of the whole world (for a short while, Vick was more reviled in American than Osama bin Laden) and receiving messages of death and torture from people around the country, what can Michael Vick – the man – do to show people he’s sorry?

Despite multiple public apologies, carrying himself in a new demeanor and publicly supporting and speaking on behalf of the Humane Society … the answer is probably “nothing.”

And, yet, PETA kills far more animals than Michael Vick ever had possession of. Where is their apology? The chart below, from Petakillsanimals.com, shows a range from 1998 to 2010 in which the number of animals PETA killed is eerily similar to the number of animals it took in.

From Petakillsanimals.com:

From July 1998 through December 2010, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) killed more than 25,000 dogs, cats, and other “companion animals.” That’s more than five defenseless creatures every day. PETA has a walk-in freezer to store the dead bodies, and contracts with a Virginia Beach company to cremate them.

A PDF from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services Online Animal Reporting detailing the finding can be viewed here: Online Animal Report

Pets Killed By PETA

Year Received† Trans-
Adopted Killed
2010 2,345 63 44 1.86% 2,200 93.8%
2009 2,366 31 8 0.34% 2,301 97.3%
2008 2,216 34 7 0.32% 2,124 95.8%
2007 1,997 35 17 0.85% 1,815 90.9%
2006 3,061 46 12 0.39% 2,981 97.4%
2005 2,165 69 146 6.74% 1,946 89.9%
2004 2,655 1 361 13.60% 2,278 85.8%
2003 2,224 1 312 14.03% 1,911 85.9%
2002 2,680 2 382 14.25% 2,298 85.7%
2001 2,685 14 703 26.18% 1,944 72.4%
2000 2,681 28 624 23.27% 2,029 75.7%
1999 1,805 91 386 21.39% 1,328 73.6%
1998* 943 125 133 14.10% 685 72.6%
Total 29,823 540 3,135 10.56% 25,840 85.9%
* figures represent the second half of 1998 only
† Other than spay/neuter animals

Move on

Vick has done more negative things than the average person. But he’s likely also done more positive things. The closure of his dog fighting ring has opened a Pandora’s box of animal cruelty awareness. He ratted out his former friends and no longer associates himself with them.

Let’s be clear about something: I’m not sticking my head in the sand and acting as if this never happened. It is possible to forgive, but also not forget. Michael Vick was involved in a horrendous timeline of events that many of us probably cannot wrap our heads around. The scale of the operation was mind-boggling.

Michael Vick elicits more emotion from people than the Taliban. Than al-Qaeda. Than famine in East Africa. These are all events happening in our present day. Yet, come football season when Michael Vick takes the field during primetime, the same platitudes are heard from people who can’t let a changed man simply be himself.


Vick is a football player living his life and staying relatively low on the radar in comparison to his star level. He didn’t kill your dog and he’s not wishing any harm on to you. So who are we to tell Vick his comeuppance wasn’t enough for us? Our culture wants Vick electrocuted because he needs to feel what those tortured dogs felt.

In this instance, it’s as if society is saying it is OK to torture people. Yet we speak out against torture overseas and extraordinary rendition.

What an ironic devolution of our society: It’s OK to wish the maiming of those who make mistakes as long as they aren’t pets.

Here’s to Michael Vick – the man, the father and the football player – finding success with his second opportunity.

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