"I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family's decision to care for a pet. As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals," Vick said, according to a statement he provided TMZ, the online celebrity-news website. "I want to ensure that my children establish a loving bond and treat all of God's creatures with kindness and respect. Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family.
"This is an opportunity to break the cycle. To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change," Vick said.
Before we go further, take a really close look at that photo. What do you see? I see a peaceful, nurturing domestic scene. I see a loving father spending time with a darling little girl whose head is bent over a school worksheet. She's barefoot and appears to be concentrating. In the background, I see a clean, orderly environment. I can almost smell dinner cooking. Sure, Dad may be reviewing football plays on his iPad or fooling around on the Internet, but he's close enough at that sleek glass dining table to be there for his child to answer a homework question or provide encouragement to keep the child focused on the task at hand. I think it's a warm, wonderful scene. Vick even married his daughters' mother last summer, adding another dose of stability.
If you ask me, that's one lucky little girl in that photo. It's sobering to consider just how many children in this city and elsewhere have never experienced a scene of quiet domesticity like this. Too many youngsters have never even met their fathers, much less had him sitting at the table with them while they do their homework. What a powerful image to be out there.
Vick's critics, though, are focused on his right to even own a dog again.
I'm OK with it. Vick did the unthinkable. But he went to jail and served time in federal custody. The man lost his livelihood. Vick even went broke, filing for bankruptcy protection in 2008. Slowly, but surely, Vick built himself back up to get to where he is now, the Eagles' starting quarterback. He's done all the right things to rehabilitate not only his soul, but also his name. I really believe him when he says he's sorry. I bet he'll never be involved in anything remotely related to dogfighting again.
If a man serves out his sentence for killing his wife, he's not prevented from remarrying once he's released. People get second chances every day.
It's no different for Vick. He doesn't have to conform to a different set of standards because some people don't believe in second chances. If he wants to have a dog in his home so his daughters can learn responsibility by walking it and caring for it, that's his business. Vick has earned back that right.
I'm just curious what kind of dog it is.
Contact Jenice Armstrong at email@example.com or 215-854-2223. Follow her on Twitter @JeniceAmstrong. Read her blog at philly.com/HeyJen.