In August 2007, Michael Vick pleaded guilty to taking part in an illegal dogfighting enterprise and in November 2007 he turned himself in to begin serving his sentence early. Vick, the former star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, and three other men took part in an illegal dogfighting enterprise known as "Bad Newz Kennels" at Vick’s home in Surry County, Virginia.
Vick has been working with the HSUS in community education programs for at-risk youths. After a youth education meeting 10 days ago at the Liberation Christian Center in Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood, Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO said that Vick "shared his story, expressed remorse for his actions, urged the community to stand up to dogfighting and asked them to help with the campaign."
To the vast majority of football fans, Vick’s past does not seem to have altered his status as someone to look up to – the NFL’s shop forecasts that his shirt will be one of the best-selling shirts this month. However, the Best Friends Animal Society, who took in 22 of Michael Vick’s dogs kept for fighting, has reacted differently, and wants Vick to give more time to preventing dogfighting.
"Michael Vick has served his time and satisfied the requirements of our legal system. But if he is truly as remorseful as he claims, then he must know in his heart that what he did cannot be undone. In fact, the only true expression of remorse that he could possibly make would be to dedicate the rest of his life to relieving the suffering of animals and helping to bring all dogfighting to an end," said a spokesperson for Best Friends Animal Society.
"This being said, Best Friends feels that perhaps the cart is being placed before the horse. Wouldn’t it have been better if, before he was given the privilege of returning to the NFL, he had spent at least one year working for the good of animals? He could have worked as a shelter volunteer, visited community centers, and delivered messages to at-risk children, totally free from the glare of the pro football spotlight. Surely this act of dedication would help us see what truly is in his heart. As it is, we’re left to wonder if his expression of repentance is genuine or just part of a well-orchestrated plan to return him to multi-million-dollar, sports megastar status," the statement continued.