Michael Vick tweeted a really adorable photo last week of him and his cute little daughter, and eagle-eyed followers noticed something unusual on the kitchen table with them: a box of Milkbone dog biscuits. Which started a whole lotta speculation on whether Michael Vick had a dog, whether Michael Vick was legally allowed to have a dog, whether Michael Vick should morally be allowed to have a dog, and so forth. When Michael Vick the next day confirmed that he does indeed now own a dog, news reports on the story, predictably, bore headlines like DOG KILLER MICHAEL VICK HAS A NEW DOG.
When Vick owned up to owning said dog—still no info on breed, name, or any of the other details inquiring fans want to know—he made what I thought was a remarkably beautiful statement about why he got one: “I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family’s decision to care for a pet,” he said. “As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals. 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.”
I don’t know how it’s possible for a guy in his position to be more eloquent than that. He hit all the right notes, in my book—and I think it’s fair to say I love dogs as much as the next person, with the exception of Princess, the stupid little Jack Russell two doors down whose incessant barking makes me insane. (Holla, Princess, you dumb little bitch.) But, also predictably, an awful lot of people aren’t happy that Michael Vick has got a dog. Here’s what some of them said in comments sections of news stories on the acquisition:
He should never be allowed to own another animal for the rest of his life.
Hopefully his pup will bite Vick’s nad off.
Human P.O.S. who was fortunate enough to be born with athletic ability.
He’s garbage! He has no business having a dog! NONE!
If Vick gets mad, that dog will be hanging from a tree. Can’t believe our society—next we will have pedophiles getting a chance to be daycare providers.
I know, I know; I shouldn’t read comments. And I also know that the people who write comments aren’t, generally, sane, well-adjusted types. I mean, who has time to comment on blog posts? But they ARE extremely sure of themselves and their opinions, and almost always, their opinions boil down to one thing: No. Second. Chance. When the hordes out there smell blood, they want blood.
Read enough comments, and you’ll come to think of America as a barely restrained lynch mob, frothing at the mouth in its eagerness to string up, castrate, confine and kill any and all wrongdoers. I hope these people aren’t sitting on juries, because you know what? I’ve made mistakes in my life. People I love very much have made mistakes. We’ll probably make more mistakes in the future. I know what Michael Vick did was horrific. But guess what? So does Michael Vick—now.
If no one ever told you it was wrong to kill a dog, would you instinctively know it? People kill cows and chickens and sheep. I kill mice and bugs. Despite the commenters’ arguments to the contrary, there is such a thing in life as context. I’d never eat dog meat, but if I lived in Switzerland or Korea or Vietnam, I would. It was sold in Belgium and France last century; in Germany, it was called “blockade mutton.” Some morality is relative. Insisting otherwise is a sign of bigotry.
Which brings us to the news story I read over the weekend about the Senegalese and their sheep. Apparently, the Senegalese are fond of sheep. I mean, really fond of sheep. They keep sheep in their houses. They sleep with their sheep. They have a hit reality show that each week presents sheep face-offs, until at the end of each season the prettiest sheep in the nation is crowned. The story quoted a man named Samba Fall who keeps seven sheep in his home. His favorite is named Papis General Fall. “He is like my little son,” Samba Fall says.
Every sheep I’ve ever met has been dumber than bricks, but maybe I just haven’t met any Senegalese sheep. I’m glad Michael Vick’s daughter gets to have a dog, though.