Wednesday, December 29, 2010

When Two Worlds Collide

As some of you know, I'm a children's writer by day and dog-foster parent by night. I'm working on an assignment right now that merges my two worlds. It doesn't feel at all like work to me, but, ironically, it's not easy to write about. It's an article about dogfighting for teens.

I interviewed one young man who was on the verge of fighting his pit bull, Elmo, but changed his mind after intervention from the HSUS End Dogfighting Program. He lived in a Chicago neighborhood where street dog fighting was rampant and was just nine years old when he first went to a dog fight.

My next interview is this afternoon with John Garcia from Best Friends. [Lady friends who love dogs, this is where you get jealous. Very, very jealous.] If you've seen Dog Town, then you know who he. He was very influential in the rehabilitation of the Vick-tory dogs at Best Friends. Wish me luck!

Oh, and if you haven't seen this yet, check out this letter from Best Friends in response to President Obama's comments praising Michael Vick's second chance. I can't believe I'm saying this, but you just lost my vote, Mr. President.


  1. Individuals who have paid for their crimes should have an opportunity to contribute to society again.

  2. I agree. I just don't think Vick has paid for his crime.

  3. I wouldn't consider throwing a football "contributing to society." Far from it. (Unless, of course, we're talking about a society that eats and sleeps sports and worships players no matter what crimes they commit—murder, rape, animal abuse. Oh wait...)

    Educate others. Advocate whole-heartedly for the humane treatment of animals. Work on-the-ground to stop dogfighting. I still wouldn't wear his jersey, but I might say he is making a contribution—however small— to society.

  4. Here here, Kim! I agree whole heartedly with your comment above. Contribute like it matters, Vick.

    And holy crap I'm insanely jealous about your John Garcia interview!!! Good luck!

  5. Why does Michael Vick need a dog? Clearly he doesn't like them very much. :( I have heard of Best Friends, I read the book about it, and I'm so happy for you that you get to talk to John Garcia! Good luck!

  6. I don't think Michael Vick needs a dog; in fact, I think it's ridiculous of him to ask for one.

    But to the other Anonymous poster, if a judge feels he did the time necessary (and seeing as how it was a federal prison and not one of those minimum-security resort prisons), then he has in fact paid for it.

    And while throwing a football may not meet the definition of "contributing to society," entertaining millions should fall under that umbrella. And one has to consider that his crime cost him dearly in the financial department. Becoming a janitor or some other such job that others may deign him worthy of may seem like a fitting punishment but the fact is the man is bankrupt and trying to rebuild his life.

    Was what he did wrong? Absolutely. Was it terrible? Yes. But the fact is that a federal judge felt he had done his time, he has gainful employment, and he's trying to rebuild his life. He's not a villain; he's a guy who made some absolutely horrendous decisions and is now trying to get his life on track.

    And to say that that's the dealbreaker for not voting for the President in 2012 is absurd. There are plenty of reasons to vote either way in 2012; Obama making an off-handed remark about a football player in the context of him solely as an athlete is not one of them.

  7. I totally know the voice behind you, Anonymous. ;) I respect your opinions and always appreciate when people can engage in thoughtful discourse.

    I agree that he served his time for the "choices" he made, as dictated by the law; as a result, he has the right to seek gainful employment to settle his debts and move on. (Many of these debts are compounded by the amount of money he blew on setting up the Bad Newz Kennels and gambling on his dogs.) Fair enough. If he (or Joe Schmo) applied for a job at a school or company, would his criminal-background check prevent him from being hired? I would think so.

    Then why was it okay for the NFL to re-hire him? He's got talent, and he generates revenue. I see that talent with every game I watch in anticipation someone is going to render him unconscious.

    I just think the NFL and specifically the Eagles are sending the wrong message by allowing him in a position where he can be forgiven and worshipped by many—including children—simply because of these talents. Forgiveness, for me, comes with a genuine apology and action to reform. He has not given either. Obama's comments are perpetuating the idea it's okay to forgive and forget without change. You know, the kind we can believe in.

    I realize my Obama judgement was a rash one, especially coming from someone who has supported him all along. But the guy already had one strike against him by accepting a $1,600 gift of a dog instead of adopting a shelter dog.

    When Obama comes back with an apology and makes a call to BAD RAP or BF to thank them for their work, then I will likely find a way to forgive and forget.

  8. Obama should definitely thank the shelters that took Vick's dogs in; there's zero question about that. I'm not even a dog lover and I acknowledge what an amazing amount of work must be done to get these dogs even close to normally socialized -- if that's at all possible.

    As for the NFL and the Eagles' decisions -- it probably is the wrong message to allow him to play. And while I will fully acknowledge that the off-field actions toward redemption Vick has taken since his reinstatement are few, he at least has spoken out against dogfighting which, as someone who knows the South can attest, is a far more serious problem than anyone lets on. That has to count for something -- not much, admittedly, but something. The hard part for all of this is separating the athlete from the person, which an adult can do (though many ignore it) but which children really can't.

    And I'm really not shocked that the NFL lets anyone on the field. I mean, Ben Roethlisberger will molest anything that walks and Ray Lewis may or may not have killed a man and they're both allowed to play. And don't get me started on Pacman Jones. Nothing's shocking.