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Should Michael Vick have been allowed back into the NFL?

I want to start today by dedicating this blog post and this week’s Pet Chat Radio broadcast to our late beloved Devon Rex cat, Mariano, known affectionately by family and friends simply as Mo. Mo was just shy of two years of age when just last week, he became very ill with a disease that affected his liver, but whose cause could not be confirmed until after we lost him after several days of intensive care hospitalization. Ultimately, given failure to respond to aggressive treatment for other common diseases of the feline liver, combined with evidence found on post mortem examination, it is most likely that Mo fell victim to one of the most ambiguous, frustrating, yet imminently deadly viral disease in cats, Feline Infectious Peritonitis, most commonly called FIP.

The Devon Rex breed is perhaps the most tolerant, gentle, social, and intelligent breeds of feline I have had the pleasure to experience. Mo was special even for the breed, from his love of our many dogs, following them and cuddling with them as if he were just another member of the pack, to not only his tolerance of my toddler son, but actively seeking out his interaction. When not with the dogs, frolicking with my son, or playing in our pool’s waterfall, the other place you could count on Mo being, was in one of our laps.

A prince among cats, a source of love, joy, and amusement in all the lives he touched – friends and family alike loved Mo – even those who were not cat people could not help but love Mo, the short time he spent this earth will forever leave an everlasting impression on the hearts of all that had the privilege to know him. We will always love you Mo, and we thank you for the joy you brought us.

Before getting to the main portion of the program, I wish to quickly remind you all of my appearance last week on the Win Without Competing talk show with Dr. Arlene Barro. I really enjoyed the experience, with Dr. Barro having asked me questions that took me way back to several experiences and circumstances that led me to where I am and what I am doing today. We tend to forget the path that drove us to our adult lives and careers once fully immersed, and the manner in which Dr. Barro led me to recall key points in my journey has been enlightening to both many of my readers and listeners, as well as myself. In case you missed it and are interested in checking it out, here is the link:

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/Dr-Arlene-Barro-/2009/08/13/WIN-Without-Competing-with-Dr-Arlene-Barro

On to our feature topic and subject of my personal comment on Pet Chat Radio this week, Michael Vick having recently inked a deal to serve in a back up or utility quarterback role for the Philadelphia Eagles. Many people, some Eagles fans included, feel that this man has no business being back in the NFL after the horrific animal cruelty crimes associated with a dog fighting operation he both financed and provided facilities for, he was convicted of and recently finished serving out a sentence for.

The question is, was the NFL commissioner wrong in letting Vick be reinstated into the NFL? Is it not enough that he served out his punishment as dictated by our system of law, in so doing lost three years of prime playing years, lost his status as the Atlanta Falcons franchise quarterback and lucrative contract that came with that, and lost all of his lucrative endorsements? Do the gravity of his crimes also necessitate banning the man from the NFL for life, keeping him from the only means he has ever known to earn a living?

These are very difficult questions indeed. Michael Vick’s crimes are indeed atrocious when considered by anyone with any sense of decency and compassion. The atrocities that occurred at his compound of cruelty with his consent and financial backing, as well as their aftermath, after all are very difficult to even consider forgiving, let alone give this man the opportunity to be cheered by fans and gain some semblance of being a role model for our children.

On the other hand, if you believe in our criminal justice system, one that is flawed but still in my opinion the fairest and most effective in the world, one that supports the notion of paying one’s debt to society, rehabilitation, and reintegration back into a law abiding society, are we right to advocate that we deny Mr. Vick the right to make a living? While I know that many will disagree with me on this, perhaps even be appalled with me given the nature of my profession, I agree with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to reinstate Michael Vick. I feel that the system dictates that we give the man that second chance.

Does this mean that I forgive and/or forget the horrible deeds that occurred at the hands of Michael Vick and his team of torturers? Absolutely not! I was one of the most vociferous bloggers attacking the man and his supporters back in 2006 when the news first broke. In fact, I do not know if there will ever be a day that I can look at the face of Michael Vick and not feel disgust and anger for the deeds he enabled, no matter what great acts he performs on and off the field in the coming years. I do believe, however, that the fact that our system levied the penalty it deemed appropriate, the time was served, and in the process Vick went bankrupt and became one of our nation’s greatest pariahs, he earned the right to a second chance. Our system mandates this, as does the spirit of fairness of our nation.

Roger Welton, DVM
Founder, Web-DVM

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