The world’s most famous convicted dog-fighter says he wants another furry pet.
NFL player and ex-superstar Michael Vick became damaged goods in 2007 after scandalizing his reputation by pleading guilty to running a dog-fighting ring. But in his campaign to rehabilitate his image, he told New Jersey students last week that he misses having a dog of his own.
“I wish I could have a dog right now, more than anything in the world,” he told about 100 youth and adults at the Boys & Girls Club in Newark, just days before he would pass for a touchdown and throw for another in helping his Philadelphia Eagles demolish his former team, the Atlanta Falcons, on Sunday, 34-7.
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Probation restrictions keep Vick from owning or even being near canines. He told the mostly middle-school audience, as he has publicly stated since his release from a 23-month federal prison sentence, that he made a mistake.
“My goal now is to help more animals than I hurt and help turn a negative situation into a positive,” he said.
Vick, who joined the Philadelphia Eagles this year after being dropped from the Atlanta Falcons and losing millions of dollars in endorsements, is backed by the Humane Society in his appearances. He’s also talked to youth in Chicago and Atlanta. The 29-year-old admitted to running the Virginia-based ring that involved training dogs to fight and betting on winners. Losing dogs were shot, hanged and sometimes drowned, court evidence showed.
Now Vick claims a new sensitivity to animals: Dogs “have pains, they have feelings and they have emotions,” he said in a 15-minute talk.
Still, Vick, whose talks are given on a voluntary basis since he reportedly approached the Humane Society, offers no explanation for his involvement in the illegal activity.
“I don't understand why (I did it), to this day,” he said in response to a student’s question. “Use me as an example for you not to do the things that would lead you down the wrong path.”