Five years have passed since Michael Vick admitted to running a dogfighting operation, and now the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has another confession to make.
The NFL’s No. 1 career rushing quarterback — who for 17 months was known as inmate 33765-183 at the Leavenworth federal prison in Kansas — announced Thursday in a statement from his publicist that he owns a dog, NBC Philadelphia reported.
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“I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family’s decision to care for a pet. As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals. I want to ensure that my children establish a loving bond and treat all of God’s creatures with kindness and respect. Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family. This is an opportunity to break the cycle. To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change.”
Vick released the statement after initially dodging the media’s questions about canine ownership prompted by a picture he tweeted on Oct. 4. The photo, accompanied by the caption “we workin,” showed the athlete poring over film while sitting next to his daughter, who is working on what appears to be homework. An open box of Milk-Bones appears next to his child on the table. Vick later deleted the image, posted by Crossing Broad, and replaced it with a new one without the dog treats.
Although the idea of the a convicted former dog abuser owning a pooch may cause some to shudder, it’s legal. NBC noted that Vick’s 2007 sentencing order prevented him from “[engaging] in the purchase, possession, or sale of any canine,” but this condition applied only throughout his probation, which ended earlier this year.
The quarterback also hinted of plans to welcome a dog into his family in July — shortly before his probation ended — during an appearance on Piers Morgan’s show to promote his autobiography Finally Free. He told the host he believed owning a pet would be “therapeutic” for his kids. “I can’t take that dream away from them,” Vick told Morgan. “That’s selfish on my behalf.”
There are indications Vick is a reformed man. Since his release from Leavenworth in 2009, he has spoken against animal cruelty in partnership with The Humane Society of the United States, and he told the Associated Press he would continue this practice.
“I’m not a psychopath. I’m not crazy. I’m a human being,” Vick told the AP about his desire to own a dog. “What happened in my past and what I did in the culture I grew up in doesn’t shape and mold me as the person I am now.”