MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life

MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life
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Friday, August 28, 2009

The Link Between Animal and Human Abuse: Michael Vick Should Not Be in a Role Model Position

Although I believe everyone deserves the opportunity to a job after release from prison, I don't believe Michael Vick should be back in the NFL, where sports figures are modeled and revered by children and teens as well as adults. Even though he may eventually help the cause of animals, I don't feel we really know that yet, and placing him in such a high profile, public eye "job" seems inappropriate to me.

It's been shown that there is a link between those who abuse animals and their eventual, if not concurrent, abuse of people in their lives. Wives. Girlfriends. Children. Abusing animals is horrible in and of itself, and it's also a red flag of what's most likely to come next. This is the even more cruel truth about animal cruelty. According to American Humane, "a crime against an animal should never be taken lightly ... cruel in its own right ... a sign that the perpetrator could be capable of hurting people, too."

I agree, and this is one of my concerns about Michael Vick given the heinous crimes he committed against helpless dogs. Yes, he deserves a job, but to be placed where he, as a sports figure, is revered, cheered, and paid millions of dollars? Shouldn't the NFL hold their players to a higher standard and be empowered to say "No" to Vick for life?

You can learn more about The Link between animal and human abuse at

Some states allow pets to be included in domestic-violence protective orders. Find out about your state at The Link and advocate for legislation that protects animal victims of abuse in your state.

Very sadly, some animal abuse perpetrators begin in childhood. Teachers and parents need to educate themselves on the signs a troubled child displays who may be abusing animals or who have this penchant for violence. According to American Humane, "statewide coalitions in Maine, Rhode Island, Delaware and New Mexico, as well as groups in cities such as Boston, Phoenix, Colorado Springs and San Antonio, have formed to spread awareness of The Link and increase the likelihood of identifying where and when violence may be occurring. More communities need to take action ... It’s important that judges and juries understand The Link when evaluating abusers’ behavior."

I hope that future abuse will not be the case for Michael Vick and the people in his life. I hope he truly is remorseful, can be successfully rehabilitated, and become a true champion for animals. But that remains to be seen. Somehow I'd believe in Vick's intentions with the Humane Society of the United State more if he made stopping dog fighting and animal cruelty his cause without the motive of returning to the NFL. Time will tell.

Posted By:

Dawn Kairns
Author of MAGGIE the dog who changed my life: A Story of Love


Ingrid King said...

As someone who approaches life from the perspective of trying to believe the best about someone unless proven wrong, I'm struggling with this situation. It is simply inconceivable to me how anyone can do to another living being what Vick has done to these dogs. I was horrified when he was reinstated with the NFL. I was probably even more horrified when the HSUS picked him up as a spokesperson.

I get their reasoning on an intellectual level - from a PR perspective, this is a tremendous opportunity to use his celebrity (or should that be notoriety?) status to benefit animal welfare. On an emotional level, I'm just not so sure that Vick is truly sorry for his actions, or whether it's just all one big PR move to clean up his image. But that's not up to me to judge - nobody other than Vick himself will ever truly know what's true about Michael Vick.

In the meantime, I choose to give him the benefit of the doubt about his re-entry into society and the NFL. Everyone deserves a chance at redemption. I'm going to hope that the innate goodness that I believe is at the core of all human beings will win out over his past, and that he will find a way to - sincerely - use his high profile and public visibility to benefit animal welfare and put an end to dogfighting.

Only time will tell.

Dawn Kairns, Author of MAGGIE: the dog who changed my life said...

Thank you, Ingrid -- very well said. I'm struggling, too, with what Michael Vick did to the dogs, and with the NFL & HSUS decisions. I try not to judge but I, too, have concerns re: it being just a PR move to "clean up his image." I do hope it is the goodness at the core of every human being that shines through in his case, but for some reason, I'm shuddering ...