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September 6, 2007

Michael Vick - A Perspective

Patricia A. Kelly

Make no mistake. Michael Vick was wrong. Raising dogs under cruel conditions, torturing them as they are trained to fight, killing them painfully when they fail to live up to expectations.It's wrong.

Dogs have no voice. They can't choose whether to fight. They can't even complain about their treatment. They deserve better from us, who are gifted with intellect. We should be held to a high standard, one that includes kindness to lesser beings.

We seem to find it very easy to make a judgment about Michael Vick's behavior. We take Number 7 Atlanta Falcons' jerseys and wipe up the dog's poop with them. We declare, our lips tightly pursed in righteousness, that Michael Vick should never play pro football again.

Why is it so easy to defend the dogs in this case all of a sudden?

Cruelty to animals is endemic in society. They are used in sport as well as for food. Not many of them have nice lives.

There are rodeos, bullfights, cockfights, and dog fights. In the Philippines, living animals are tenderized by beating them so that blood permeates their muscles to make the meat more tasty. There's a salad there called "Jumping Shrimp."

Here in the U.S. we throw living, conscious crabs into pots of boiling water and steam living shellfish. We cut off the beaks of chickens so they won't injure each other in their impossibly small cages. We raise calves in tiny pens where they can't move and make their muscles less tender. We crop the ears and tails of our dogs to make them look cute.

How did Michael Vick get the brass ring for the most serious cruelty?

There's an Internet site called Realfootball365 where a hypothetical football team made up completely of NFL criminals has been created, "a real life re-creation of The Longest Yard."

Michael Vick, of course gets to play quarterback. As they say, he's the hottest bad boy out there right now.

Even though he's retired, O.J. Simpson returns as halfback. We could never leave him out.

Wide receiver could be Michael Irvin, of the Dallas Cowboys, who said to the police, "Don't you know who I am?" when they were arresting him for a cocaine and marijuana party.

There are many more candidates, such as Rae Carruth, Leonard Little, and our own Raven Ray Lewis, who was closely associated with a double murder. He was fined $250,000 shortly before receiving the Most Valuable Player award. My impression at the time was that we were all so relieved that a way was found for him to continue to play.

Good thing those men weren't dogs. They'd be working in a carwash somewhere.

What Michael Vick did was very bad. He killed dogs, and not people. He should pay. He should make some effort to make up for what he's done, as he promised he would during his apology. Maybe he could use his celebrity to advocate actively for animals, from pit bulls to the animals in our meat-packing plants.

If he does his penance, he should get as much of a second chance as Ray Lewis.

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