Thursday, January 21, 2010

The problem, not the answer

Wondering if it's the dog or the way it's raised? Just look at Michael Vick. Deserved or not, BET starts a 10-part series Feb. 2 on Vick, the NFL Pro Bowl quarterback who spent more than a year in prison for running a dogfighting operation.

The series will supposedly show us how he's turned his life around after throwing away what could have been a spectacular career and being directly and indirectly responsible for the deaths of countless pit bulls and other dogs.

"This is hard to imagine myself doing this years ago," Vick says in one of the episodes while walking through the former Bad Newz Kennels.

Memo to Michael Vick: It wasn't all that long ago when you were putting two dogs in a pit until one of them killed the other. It wasn't that all long ago when you hanged and drowned and beat dogs dead -- dogs like mine in this picture -- because they didn't perform.

Michael Vick is part of the reason pit bulls have the reputation of brutal killers. He, and too many others like him have fed the belief that the dogs were bred to fight, and have raised them solely for that purpose, perpetuating the problem. The misconception means that more good dogs -- good pit bulls -- die every day.

I don't mean just the ones who are raised to get thrown in the pits and fight to the death, but the ones sitting in shelters who can't get adopted because of the public perception. Dogs that have never fought a day in their lives or been taught to do so. If people won't adopt them, they are euthanized. It's not a gruesome as a dogfight, or electrocution, but the result is the same.

When Michael Vick was first arrested and sent to prison, a lot of people started taking a second look at pit bulls. Slowly, people started to learn about the breed, learn that they are bred and prized for their "gameness," and that "gameness" is very different from aggression.

Michael Vick did his time, lost an awful lot and is trying to rebuild his life. A 10-part special of him saying I'm sorry and realizing it was "pointless" doesn't absolve him in my eyes. However, how he conducts himself from here on out will. Hopefully he will advocate for the dogs and educate against the lifestyle.

I do believe we all deserve a shot at forgiveness; at some point in our lives, we all deserve a second chance. Vick got his with the Philadelphia Eagles this season, and yet another with this TV special.

I just hope some of these dogs sitting in shelters get another chance as well. My guess is they are much more deserving than the quarterback.

1 comment:

  1. Our current dog was dropped off on our road, most probably because no one wanted him... he is most definitely a pit bull mix. We've raised him since we found him (nearly a year ago) and he's a sweet, loving dog... though not the sharpest tool in the shed (though that's part of his charm). I'm conflicted on whether to shame the people who abandoned him, or thank them for preventing him from becoming one of the millions of abused or unwanted dogs in this country.