Vick's fiance buys family a baby parrot

Bird with a bird: Michael Vick at Todd Marcus Exotic Birds. This isn't the parrot chosen.
Bird with a bird: Michael Vick at Todd Marcus Exotic Birds. This isn't the parrot chosen.
Posted: October 28, 2011

Philadelphia's most famous Bird now has a bird of his own - or at least his family does.

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick, who spent 18 months in federal prison on dogfighting charges, now shares his home with a baby parrot.

Vick's fiancee, Kijafa Frink, bought the bird for her daughters, family spokesman Chris Shigas said Thursday. "The bird is doing fine," Shigas said. "She felt he would be good company for them when Mike is traveling."

His name is Rio, after the animated movie about a macaw who takes off on a South American adventure.

Todd Marcus, owner of Todd Marcus Exotic Birds Inc., said Vick and Frink came into his Delran store a month ago with their two children, looking for a family bird. They decided on a six-month-old caique, a small species of parrot - six inches tall - native to the rain forests of South America, for which they paid $1,100, he said.

Marcus said he was confident Vick and his family would be good bird owners. "He is under a microscope," Marcus said. "If he did something to harm the bird, it would be insanity."

Under the terms of his three-year probation, which expires in May, Vick cannot own a dog, but he is not barred from owning other animals.

The Eagles' decision to sign Vick straight out of prison in 2009 infuriated animal lovers across the country. In the Philadelphia area, some fans dumped their tickets, sold their memorabilia, and dropped their allegiance to their beloved Birds.

In response, the Eagles established a $500,000 fund to support animal welfare and have since spent about half of it helping shelters build spay/neuter clinics, provide mobile veterinary services, and train service dogs.

Vick was ordered to pay nearly $1 million in restitution for the four dozen dogs rescued from the Virginia compound where he admitted to drowning and electrocuting pit bulls that lost in the ring. After his release, Vick teamed with the Humane Society of the United States to speak out against dogfighting.

In Vick's third season with the Eagles, the protests have ebbed. But animal-welfare advocates have not forgotten.

"I'm conflicted," said Karel Minor, director of the Humane Society of Berks County, whose shelter received $50,000 from the Eagles. "We have to believe that people can somehow change their behavior and their beliefs. Whether that's the case with him, we don't know."

Michael McAllister of Philadelphia, who owns six exotic birds, including a caique, said he was angry that Vick bought an animal - even though it was allowed - before his probation was up. "I'm concerned about the bird, and I told the Eagles I was unhappy," he said.

Marcus said that he had felt the heat from bird lovers about the sale, but that he trusted Vick and his family to be responsible pet owners. "Nothing can be done about the horrible acts of the past, but he is doing things to prevent that from happening again," he said. "Who knows how many dogs he may have saved?"


Contact staff writer Amy Worden at 717-783-2584, aworden@phillynews.com, or @inkyamy on Twitter.

 

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