As an organization, The Real Pit Bull has avoided coming out with an official statement regarding Michael Vick. RPB already has an official statement on dog fighting - zero tolerance, no excuses. In one sense, Vick is just another dog fighter. He was caught, he was prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, served his time.
Vick is now a free man, signed with a new NFL team, and gearing up for his first game. You might say this story has run full circle, and as Pit Bull advocacy organizations, perhaps we should all just "move on”.
Oh? Move on?
What makes the Vick case different from other dog fighting cases - keeps it in the spotlight and emotions surrounding it high - is Vick’s celebrity and the especially brutal torture and death of the dogs who never made it out of Bad Newz kennels alive. For many, the torture is what cannot be "moved on" from. What drives the continued protests. What keeps so many from forgiving a man who hasn't convinced them he is truly sorry anyway.
When the news broke that Vick signed with a new team, a collective cry of renewed outrage arose. This outrage was immediately met with an attitude of, "He served his time, leave him alone". Vick has a legal right to pursue employment - and he has. The NFL is within their perfect right to reinstate him - and they have. Any NFL team can sign him right up - and one has. Poor Vick, right? Oh just leave him be!
Vick actually seems to be doing just fine. In fact, huge numbers of people seem to be willing to just forgive and forget. What most strikes me is the quickness with which so many look past Vick's actions, or dismiss sadistic abuse on animals with a simple, "But he paid his dues - he went to prison". I recently read an email that said in part, "We shouldn't judge Vick. Besides, I don't think Vick was even directly involved. He just bankrolled the kennel." It is a common misconception that Vick wasn't directly involved. He was. He used his own hands to kill dogs. Vick's dogs were routinely, systematically, tortured than killed. And Vick not only paid for it, he helped do it. As for not judging....Humans make judgments every day. About what to wear, what to drive, what to buy, what to eat for dinner, what organizations or companies to support, and what people to associate with. We have an ability to judge right and wrong and to recognize that our behavior will shape others' judgments of us. Judging a person based on good deeds is no different from judging a person based on bad deeds. Just like Michael Vick was judged as a football player prior to his arrest and conviction, so is he now judged for his severe abuse of dogs.
And here's a judgment football fans will have to make: whether or not to give money to an organization that now employs Vick, allows him to pick up right where he left off, and pays him a hefty sum to do so. All before any actions to back up the few apologetic words Vick has so-far spoken.
If the NFL and the Eagles have a right to embrace Vick and allow him to return to the fold with nary a stipulation placed on him, those who have NOT forgotten the abuse, have NOT been able to simply "move on" have a right to protest, to let their feelings be known, and to take their money elsewhere.