Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick admitted on Thursday that he became a dog owner again for the first time after coming off probation this summer for his 2008 conviction of financing a dog-fighting ring.
Vick, who served 18 months in federal prison for the conviction, said through in a statement:
“I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family’s decision to care for a pet,” Vick said. “As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals. I want to ensure that my children establish a loving bond and treat all of God’s creatures with kindness and respect. Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family.”
A picture that Vick tweeted last week sparked the notion that he might own a pet. In the image, he and his daughter are at the kitchen table and his daughter appears to be doing homework. Vick is watching football highlights on his tablet, but in the distant right corner there is a red box that appears to be a box of dog treats.
Since his release from prison in 2009, Vick has made appearances at schools and spoken to students, encouraging them to not get involved in dogfighting. He has also worked with The Humane Society of the United States to speak out about cruelty against animals.
“This is an opportunity to break the cycle,” Vick said. “To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change.”
Some fans and animal-rights activist were infuriated when Vick first came out of prison with the thought that he could possibly own a dog again.
“Being honest. Being candid. … I still deal with my kids each and every day, and for the last three years, not being able to have a dog because of my acts. . . I just don’t think that’s fair,” Vick said. “It may be something that’s therapeutic in that for them and I can’t take that dream away from them. That’s selfish on my behalf.”