Mixed Feelings about Michael Vick/HSUS partnership

Wouldn’t it be nice if Michael Vick were to acknowledge and abhor the brutality of his previous actions and use his tremendous media appeal and influence to advocate against dog fighting and animal cruelty in general?

What a redemption story! A controversial, photogenic, sporting celebrity with a rough past and uber street cred uses his powers for good instead of evil”. It seems like a GREAT idea, right? After all, who better to influence impressionable youth than someone who’s been in the belly of the beast, so to speak?

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Like a Hollywood screenplay – and who doesn’t love a good redemption story?

imageAs part of a concerted PR campaign, Michael Vick has been looking for a while for a partnership with an animal welfare group to help convince the public he’s a changed man.

In December, PETA walked away from a deal with Vick, believing that he fits an established profile for anti-social personality disorder, or APD (a nice way to say he’s a raving psychopath).

Now he’s in talks with the HSUS, who think he can be an asset in their anti dog fighting campaign and that they can use him to spread the message that dog fighting is a crime that can cost you everything.

On the HSUS blog, the HSUS President Wayne Pacelle wrote that Mr. Vick "asked for an opportunity to help. I want to give him that opportunity. If he makes the most of it, and demonstrates a sincere, long-term commitment to the task, then it may prove to be a tipping point in our campaign to eradicate dog fighting."

imageKudos has to go to the HSUS for giving this a try. We have mixed feelings about the idea though. 

From a humane education standpoint, there’s clear value in having a high profile name like Vick in your corner.  You can’t argue that he appeals to the demographic that is most at risk of getting involved in dog fighting.

But are we really expected to believe that Michael Vick has had a change of heart, is truly repentant and is now simply wanting to restore Karmic balance? The same Michael Vick who didn’t just participate in but willfully instigated the most vicious acts of animal cruelty, someone who allegedly laughed while throwing family pets in the training ring as bait?? Even accepting that such a remarkable moral reversal is possible, let’s consider what Vick stands to gain if this particular PR exercise is successful: international fame, a well-paid career back in the public eye – and let’s not forget those lucrative endorsements and licensing deals. The story alone is worth millions.

And doesn’t that send a different message? That you don’t REALLY lose everything and the consequences of your felonious brutality aren’t permanent – do the crime, do some time, make nice with the animal welfare people and it’s like nothing happened.

We hope for the animals’ sakes that the Humane Society’s instincts are right on this one.

What do you think?

Further reading/Listening:

(by Urbancritter)

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