A story about Michael Vick: you may know where this is going. It’s a name whose mere mention forces many dog-lovers to tighten the grip on the leash of their pawed-pal.
After serving a stiff prison sentence and being made an example of those engaging in the underground horrors of dogfighting, Vick began a campaign of endless apologies and a tireless effort in becoming a starting Quarterback and leading the Eagles to a winning season, quite an uphill climb after missing multiple seasons of football. Vick won the love of Philadelphia football fans, the most notoriously-unforgiving breed of audience, but the anger of pet-owners still runs strong. He’s even gone on record expressing the desire to one day own a dog again. However, it’s going to take a whole lot more than a Super Bowl victory, "I’m going to Disneyworld!" commercials, 1,000+ rushing yard-seasons and consecutive Pro Bowl appearances for anyone to even consider allowing him to own one.
And yet, a positive has arisen from this situation. Michael Vick’s former home, a 15-acre property in Surry County, VA where Vick committed his monstrosity was recently purchased by a Pennsylvania-based Animal Rights group called Dogs Deserve Better. What was once a place of death, destruction, and unjust torture for dogs will be converted to a place of refuge, rehabilitation, and safety for rescued and tortured animals.
Tamira Thayne, the group’s founder, believes in turning the once-prison to a palace, "I think by us overtaking this property we are winning for the dogs. We are, in essence, giving this property back to the dogs that were abused there by using it to help other dogs just like them." The home has four and a half bathrooms, two fireplaces, cathedral ceilings, walk-in closets and an attached, two-car garage.
Thayne hasn’t had any contact with Vick, but was told a filmmaker wants to bring him back to the property for a visit. She was unsure when asked what she would say. "I would like to see that he's really remorseful and I personally don't feel that I've seen that because actions speak louder than words," she said. "I haven't seen him really put effort into making amends."
Vick has been working with the Humane Society to help stop organized animal-fighting. He also came forward to speak out against a dog-fighting game that was released for Android phones, "I've come to learn the hard way that dogfighting is a dead-end street. Now, I am on the right side of this issue, and I think it's important to send the smart message to kids, and not glorify this form of animal cruelty."
In regards to public perception he’s still trapped in his own end zone of his errors with redemption far from throwing distance. It’s going to take a lot of plays, like football, it’s going to be a game of inches.
The group Dogs Deserve Better is seeking $3 million to assist in the transformation in making it a facility for dogs. You can make donations at www.dogsdeservebetter.org.
Image: Ed Yourdon / via Flickr