Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick is free today, having served out his 23-month federal dogfighting sentence. Vick was convicted of running a particularly nasty dogfighting operation, wherein dogs were not only fought and kept on chains in woodsy isolation, but also drowned, hung, shot and beaten to death when they didn’t perform.
Vick is still on suspension with the NFL, and speculation continues as to whether Commissioner Roger Goodell will lift the indefinite suspension he imposed on Vick in 2007. The controversy is simple yet complicated, and raises multiple questions: should someone who tortured and killed dogs with his own two hands be given a clean slate so that those hands can resume throwing a pigskin on the big stage? Does two years in jail make up for the crime? Should this crime color the rest of Vick’s life, despite already having served his sentence? What kind of example does it set to allow him back onto the field?
It’s not too big a surprise to note that our content is dramatically anti-dogfighting, as well as heavily pro-pit bull. Animal welfare is a popular topic ’round these parts – dog rescue in particular is a big theme – so it’s no wonder that the merchandise tells a no-tolerance story when it comes to dog fighting.
As for Michael Vick’s dogs, they have been placed around the country with various rescue groups. One of the orgs that evaluated and placed the dogs, BadRap, has a CafePress fundraising shop where those that want to pitch in for the latest group of fight dogs (the biggest fight bust in history just took place) can do so via a cool pit bull t-shirt.
Full disclosure: I worked with Bad Rap for several years fostered the handsome man at left. Hector is (was?) a Vick dog, and if you look closely enough you’ll note the scarring on his chest and the ding out of his tongue (he’s missing a canine on that side). After surviving Bad Newz Kennels, Hector then sadly had to survive a brief stint with the Cone of Shame (which he truthfully rather enjoyed as a run-through-the-house-and-whack-it-around noisemaker) and the dreaded bathtub. Hector now lives in Minnesota with a pack o’ happy dogs, and recently got his therapy dog certification. He takes time out from his busy schedule to update his blog, so no worries: despite all the attention, Hector hasn’t forgotten his many fans.
While Vick is now free, the sentence he handed down to his dogs hasn’t faded yet for all of them. The more emotionally stunted dogs landed at Best Friends, where they now star in National Geographic’s “Dogtown.”
Whether Vick will soon be swapping his prison uniform for one with his number on the back depends largely on both the NFL Commissioner and, one would think, fan reaction.