Best Friends Blog

Michael Vick, Never Say Never

Never say never. I thought I was done with writing about Michael Vick a long time ago, but the national conversation about the man transcends Vick himself and gets to some bigger issues: the intrinsic value of the lives of animals, for starters, and whether or not deliberate and repeated animal cruelty is a crime, like stealing a car, that can be squared with restitution and jail time or something much, much worse. The country seems to be passionately divided over the issue.

My blog last week seems to have struck a chord. It played off President Obama’s call to Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie to, in part, commend him for giving Michael Vick a second chance. There were over 1,200 reader comments to that posting and forgiveness was a primary theme.

I felt that one comment was particularly poignant and captured the moral dilemma that many people confront when the subject of Michael Vick comes up:

“I know God wants us to find it in our hearts to forgive but I just don’t know how to forgive Vick for what he has done. I need to do some praying to help me find a way but I can’t even get it in myself to pray for something like that! I’m not ready to forgive him apparently and not sure if I ever will. Please God, forgive me for being so unforgiving!” – unable to forgive

With or without God, I believe that most people would really like to feel OK about Michael Vick and that the vast majority of the public who don’t are not mean-spirited, unyielding animal nuts, which is how we are often portrayed by those who say he has suffered enough, paid enough and should be allowed to get on with his life without reservation.

For me, this is not about Michael Vick’s suffering or punishment: It’s about his conscience. Does he really have one and is there something there that we can connect with?

Getting involved in a dogfighting operation with his cousin and friends from his former life was stupid and criminal. Killing animals the way he did was deviant and reflects a sickness that can’t be offset by a prison sentence.

Most people live with regret over things that we have done or failed to do. Not because we were caught or because the things that we did ruined our lives or a relationship, but because when we go there and reflect on those actions, we see something ugly and unacceptable, something that never goes away and can never be undone.

I would like to be able to believe that Michael Vick has confronted that place in himself. Not his criminality, or his self-destructiveness or his stupidity, but the unimaginable darkness and cruelty that enabled him to personally kill at least eight very strong animals by incredibly violent methods.

Those of us who have a problem with the Vick celebration don’t believe he has done that. If he had, I don’t think his public apologies would be about all the people he let down, about failing as a role model or even, for that matter, about running a dogfighting operation.

If he had confronted that darkness, I believe his words would be different and so would the response from the animal-loving public. The problem for most of us is that Michael Vick has never really connected with us, never spoken to us on the core of the matter. If he does indeed live every day with the horror of what he did, then I believe he can and should speak to us.

He could begin with an apology to the animals. He would acknowledge that he found within himself something horrific and frightening — something that he can’t explain, excuse or defend, something that no amount of jail time or loss of public stature can offset.

It’s much easier to forgive someone who can’t forgive himself.

Francis Battista

Co-Founder, Best Friends Animal Society

  • Honorable4

    To Love all animals about the HSUS – do not forget that the HSUS wanted to have all of the dogs put down instead of trying to rehabaliate them. The HSUS may be helping animals but from what I can see right now they are doing more to hurt them by defending Vick and the only reason they are defending him right now in a big way is because of the money the Eagles organization is giving them. Let us all not forget the most important thing here and that is the welfare of animals and all animals anyone who is cruel and abusive toan animal has issues – animals are not here to hurt us they are doing the same thing we are all doing and that is taking care of their families and trying to survive. Who are we to take that right away from them. It sickens me to know that some people defene M Vick for what he has done in my eyes the people who defend him have no moral consccience and I think I need to stop before I say too much and get too many more people to dislike me.

    • Simply Springers

      Well I already like you for what you have said. Because of the HSUS backing Vick, I am done with the HSUS. Do they know the difference between Animal Welfare and Animal Rights?

      • Honorable4

        thank you.

      • Mary R

        I agree with you on being done with HSUS- I used to contribute to HSUS, but have not since the whole Michael Vick affair. I am really disappointed in them and their association with Michael Vick as I agree with you in the fact that he is in no way repentant. He is only sorry he got caught – it was an inconvenience for him.

  • Kimba707

    There is nothing truer about Michael Vick than what is said in this article. The disgusting thing is he has been quoted saying, “I would love to get another dog in the future.” This disgusts me on so many levels I can’t even put it into words. So after a pedophile serves there sentence they can have children come into their homes??

  • Deborah Trapani

    Michael Vick never received that I know of any kind of counseling about what he did. He is only rejoicing in the fact that he is having a great season. I do not believe he even thinks about those poor dogs that he with his bare hands killed. I for one will never be able to forgive him. I am sickened everytime I see him on TV. Not once has he apologized to those animals. I believe he is not sorry for what he did, he is just sorry he got caught.

  • Kallie

    Francis…you are always so thoughtful and eloquent in your words…always touching what we may not have thought of, but what our hearts have felt. I appreciate your gift.. more so, your heart.

    thank you

  • My_tarbaby

    I think he is sorry that he did the things he did because he was caught. If that had not been the case, the man would still be doing it. I agree with the article, if he were truly sorry, he would be talking about the nightmares that he is having to endure every night because of what he has done to those beautiful dogs.If justice had been served, the man would never play professional football again.

  • Shaniqua_169

    Michael Vick doesn’t deserve to eat dog food, I wish he would just drop off the face of the earth, move to Vietnam and eat dogs like they do there. That should make this sick, *astard happy. When the Eagles play, I turn off the TV. I feel sorry for the folks in PA who have to put up with this sick thing everyday.

  • Egypt2945

    I know a lot of people will not agree with me but I can never forgive or forget what he did to those helpless babies. Growing up around that kind of behaviour is no excuse.

  • fussybird

    I don’t believe for one second this is ‘just criminal behavior’. I think he has a mental disorder that could never be cured by punishment.

  • Pam

    I think he should give to the shelter an equal amount of money that he spent killing dogs, seeing the only thing that hurts him is losing cash.

  • Txdoglover

    Very well said, again. I have no desire to forgive this man, as what he did was inhumane and appalling. He has made no attempt to rectify his wrongs and the fact that he has never contacted the rescue groups that finally showed his dogs what love is speaks leaps and bounds for me. He doesn’t care…he just wants his career back. Unfortunately, the Eagles were all too willing to give him that because the almighty dollar is more important than the underlying moral issues.

  • Rodgernm

    He could begin with a huge check to your organization.

    • Jmoyer4515

      I would not take any money from him or his team for my organization. I would rather table and fundraise with dignity than except money from him. He can’t buy me or many animal rights people.

    • Honorable4

      Hear Hear after all Best Friends is taking care of 22 of his dogs – they and Bad Rap defended those poor dogs and were the first ones to help them and care for them no questions asked – the only good thing that came of this whole mess if that is even possible is that more people are paying attention to the Pit Bull breed – I love them and wish I had a farm and lots of land to own at least 1/2 a dozen of them – so they would have room to play and run and be happy – that is my wish not for me for the dogs.

  • Honorable4

    I have been saying this all along – if he apologized to the animals maybe some good would have come out of this. And maybe more people including myself would be so much more forgiving. But I cannot forgive him because the images are in my head of what he did to those poor defenseless dogs – I see them in my dreams and see them when I am awake and that I cannot forgive. I do not think he does the soo called good things because he wants to I still believe he does it for show.

  • Becky Dodge

    Thanks Francis. You put into words something I’ve felt since first learning about want Vick did. From what I have heard about his public appearances and talks regarding the whole history of his actions he does not seem to understand or have “confronted the darkness” of what he did. His words seem to be lip service, not genuine understanding of his own actions. I think that is ultimately why I don’t trust his present “contrition” and it is also why I don’t think that him getting another dog is a good thing. I’m really afraid that if he does then that dog to would be at great risk. Vick’s present talks and appearances seem to be an attempt by him and his representatives to remake the image and they do nothing to show me that he has confronted the part of himself and the extreme violence of what HE personally did to the dogs who died.

  • Jacquej57

    This is it. This is what I’ve been trying to say since the beginning, but never had this level of eloquence. Thank you Francis. You got right to the heart of the issue.

  • Mindy,,,,Kentucky

    I believe he says what his “people” tell him is ok to say. He grew up around this type of evil and in his sick mind it is ok…no amount of jail time or public apologies is going to change that…he needs some serious therapy and community work with homeless dogs to even begin to start to get my forgiveness. His “people” should be insisting he volunteer his time to work with animal shelters and also donate his money to various animal causes.

    • Raeofsunshine

      I don’t think Vick should be allowed anywhere near any dog or other animal ever again. Perhaps in a supervised setting, as part of therapy to confront the evil he committed, but in no other capacity should he be allowed around animals.

      His community service work should be public apology for his cruelty, taking responsibility for his actions and acknowledging that what he did was evil and wrong, and then donating most of his football fortune to Best Friends and other rescues that helped and are taking care of his victims.

      He should give most of his money to help other people help his victims, but he personally should stay away from dogs. Suggesting that he work at shelters or directly with dogs to me is like suggesting a child molester do volunteer work at a day care center.

      Vick would enjoy seeing the dogs suffering in cages, and he’d want to kill them.He loves inflicting pain on them, and that has not changed. And no dog would ever be safe alone with him. Ever.

    • Gpanthera

      Volunteer work.. great. With animals… NO WAY!!!!!!! That’s a recipe for disaster Mindy!!

  • martina

    wonderful and true. I think of all the little boys who at one time in their lives hurt an animal due to peer pressure or just because. 99.9% of them felt regret immediatly and that was it, game over. but those that didn’t are in our society still hurting living things. to get to an age Vick was and still think cruelty is OK makes me wonder the things he is capable of. he feels no remorse and that is what is so disturbing.

  • GetOverYourselves

    You want him to apologize to dogs so you can feel better about him? Yeah, I’d put that high on my list of things to do.

    • Zug

      I don’t need or want to feel better about him. Judging by your sarcasm you feel just fine.

    • HaveAConscience

      It is one of the highest on my list! You would have to have a conscience to understand.

  • A Rabbitmom

    Oh, and Mr. Obama…I say to you that I have lost a certain amount of respect for you sir. Yes, forgiveness may be an important lesson to instill in your children…but to teach them to forgive a monster like Vick…well, I don’t get it. Do your children know the horror he put these dogs through. The REAL truth…not the sugar-coated version. Maybe a better lesson taught would be one of second chances for these dogs who were never even given a first chance, unlike Vick, who had it all and still needed to be a sadistic idiot. I know one thing is sure, I would NEVER, EVER want my child to look up to or respect a waste of air like Vick. He will never have my forgiveness.

    • Ultrajoe95

      No his children do not know the truth…Just like the country did not know the truth about how badly he was going to run it…and run it in the GROUND!!
      He talks and talks and talks but never really says anything.
      But enough of that…I posted on one of my forums the other day and got about a 50/50 response. But I feel that what he did was horrible and something similar should be done to him. Like someone said, he never came out and apologized for what he did. MOST people NEVER apologize or even THINK about their evil doings until they get CAUGHT!!
      My wife and I just spen nearly $500 to put a stray cat back together. The reason being that we love our cats and dogs. This one was part of a litter we came home to about a year and half ago. He is sweet and has a great personality. I can only hope that he will be ok and not be harmed further or run off.
      What happened to him is someone shot him in the face with a .22. It was a glancing shot, but leaves him with only one eye. If I should find out who did this, my wish would be to shoot them in the eye. But of course, I cannot. But you can bet I will have my say and if it comes to it, that person will be prosecuted as far as I can take it!!!

      • Honorable4

        God Bless you for taking care of the stray kitty.

  • A Rabbitmom

    Amen, Francis, amen. I’ve always said the same thing…that he has never shown remorse and is only sorry that he got caught. Had he not, his miserable self would still be torturing dogs…to this I have no doubt.

  • Zug

    >>>It’s much easier to forgive someone who can’t forgive himself.<<<

    That sir, perfectly sums up the whole Vick horror show. He has forgiven himself and leaves one wondering if he ever even blamed himself. He has moved on. The majority of the public believes he he deserves this 2nd chance he's been given. Our commander in chief even believes it. Me, I'm not convinced. I doubt I'll ever forgive and I know I'll never forget. The mere mention of his name forces me to think about what his hands have done and what his eyes have seen. No, I'll never forgive.

    • Tina B

      Another great BF piece! (I love you all at Best Friends!)

      I agree with you completely, Zug. I never knew who Vick was before that horrible day in 2007 when I heard about his “kennels”, but now when I hear his name, it is instant disgust, horror, and incredible sadness (even anguish) that I feel for those poor dogs. And to see Vick just move on with his life, like he just had a simple speeding ticket that was blown out of proportion…well, that’s just beyond disgusting. I will never forgive or forget, either.

      • Raeofsunshine

        Exactly how I feel too. It all literally makes me sick … my entire system shuts down in a haze of rage and pain when I even think about his actions, and especially about his lack of remorse for those actions even now. It’s just revolting on the most fundamental level.

        And this is why I also cannot bring myself to forgive President Obama, for brining up his name and elevating him to the status of a hero or a role model for giving felons a second chance.

        It sends the message that what he did is a mere minor crime, and that remorse for these actions or making amends is completely unnecessary. His short prison sentence is enough to have “paid his debt” and all that is due, to society and to his victims. So now it’s fine to once again hold up Michael Vick as a role model for kids.

        The fact that he is a sociopathic torturer and mass murdered of innocent dogs, who not only brutally tortured his own animals but also kidnapped and tortured and murdered other people’s family pets — family members to some to some of us! — can we written off. The pain he inflicted on both people and animals is beyond words. The fact that he walks away from the with such a minor punishment and then gets elevation from the president is simply too much to accept.

        I honestly cannot imagine anything more stupid. And I say this as someone who has been an avid supporter of Barack Obama since 2007, who helped get him elected, and has stood by him through everything else up to now.

        But this has totally changed my perceptions of him, because he thinks that Michael Vick deserves to be given this status. I cannot think the same way about him ever again.

      • Enicolej1

        Great way to put it, Raeofsunshine: “a speeding ticket that was blown out of proportion.” that’s exactly what MV and those who support him seem to think this all was. Also, a thought to ponder: just because an animal doesn’t have the so-called-intellegence and conscious thought that we as humans have, does that give them any less the right to live a happy, fulfilling life? Does every creature in the world not deserve life because it cannot think on the level that we can? Who are we to play God to these poor animals?

    • Kfordham Home

      I totally agree with you! Utter disgust & hatred I have for this man. I believe he is being coached on what to say and doesn’t truly believe his own words. I also believe most people, even when young, know right from wrong. He controls himself. He could have stopped these senseless deaths and he didn’t; he wasn’t going to. He’s sad he was caught.
      We took in a young dog who had been badly mistreated, abused and starved. We’ve had her 6 yrs now and she has come so far with our love and companionship with our other dog but she is still so nervous around people (and I won’t even get into her extreme fear of garages). I am amazed at how BFAS was able to rehabilitate the Vick dogs. The work they do is phenomenal and I only wish I was able to do more myself or to move to Utah to be a part of their wonderful actions. In the meantime, I will continue cherishing our five rescued pets and support local rescue groups.

  • Kittenwolf

    AMEN!!!! Vick is sorry he got caught, sorry he had to go to jail, sorry he lost money, sorry he lost time on the field but, he has never once said he is sorry he abused, tortured or violently killed dogs!!! If he was truly sorry about the dogs and said so, “we” would be able to hear it in his voice, see it in his eyes and know it in our souls, then and only then could “we” begin to forgive him!!!! Thank You for saying what so many of us couldn’t find the words to say!

  • Jholsing

    Again,WELL SAID!! You put what I am thinking and feeling into words so much better than I could ever do myself.Thank you.Thank you.Thank you.And God bless you for what you do each and every day for these most precious of God’s creations,the animals.

  • I contacted the HSUS to tell them that I was upset about Wayne Pacelle defending Vick, but all they care about is that Vick lost a lot of money and two years of his life. They did not even acknowledge his crime or say that he was the one responsible for his own difficulties, nor did they show any concern over the abuse and murders of the dogs.

    It is obvious that the HSUS is more interested in using its money, time and energy to rehab Vick than to fight animal abuse.

    • loveallanimals

      Libra Blue,
      What a ridiculous thing to say about one of the most effective animal welfare organizations in the country. Because of HSUS, there are federal laws on the books for dogfighting. Had there not been, then Vick would have gotten away with his crime with a slap on the wrist. And HSUS is concerned with ALL animals and their singular goal is to stop cruelty and end suffering of all animals. I’d like to know, Libra Blue, if you extend your compassion to all animals. In other words, if you eat meat or dairy, you too are contributing to cruelty, just indirectly.

      • forthedogs

        While the HSUS may have helped with laws, they still (originally) believed that all dogfighting victims should be euthanized because there was absolutely no chance of rehabilitation. The HSUS does not help one-on-one as much as most believe. Hardly any of their money even goes to help animals!

  • AubieGirl

    Very well said, I’ve tried to convey my feelings in this manner but it doesn’t come out as elegantly as you’ve put it. I’m afraid my passion for animals & my anger with Michael Vick overcomes me. Bravo to you!


  • EmilyS

    “Getting involved in a dogfighting operation with his cousin and friends from his former life was stupid and criminal. Killing animals the way he did was deviant and reflects a sickness that can’t be offset by a prison sentence.”

    that’s it in a nutshell. Another great blog on this subject.

    • I was just thinking exactly the same thing. It sums it up in a nutshell.

    • Ladyinj

      Vick is, and remains, a serial killer ….. who knows, had he not been caught, would his
      next victim been human ????

      • Guest

        Studies show that violence toward animals is often a predictor of violence toward humans. So, who knows?