Last week, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick created a stir when he tweeted what appeared to be a Rockwellian picture of himself playing on his iPad while his daughter studied at the kitchen table. The stir occurred when people noticed a box of Milk-Bones on the table, which raised the question: Is the man who spent 23 months in federal prison on dogfighting charges now a dog owner?
The answer, it turns out, is yes.
In a statement released on Thursday, Vick confirmed that he does, in fact, own a dog.
''I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family's decision to care for a pet,'' Vick said in a statement. ''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,'' Vick added. ''To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change.''
When Vick was released from prison in July of 2009, he was placed on probation for a period of three years. In addition to submitting monthly financial statements and reports of his income and expenses, limits on activities such as travel and avoiding guns and gambling, Vick was prohibited from owning a dog while he was on probation.
Certainly there will be many people who will take issue with Vick's decision to become a dog owner again. Based on how Vick deleted the original picture and replaced it with one with the box of doggie treats cropped out, even Vick knows that a firestorm was coming. But from a legal standpoint, Vick was not banned from dog ownership for life (which many would like to have seen happen) and he has fulfilled the obligations of his probation. Therefore, he is legally allowed to do something he planned to do once his probation was up.
In an interview with CNN's Piers Morgan on July 18, Vick discussed how he would like to get a dog for his children's sake.
"Maybe so," Vick said if he was considering getting a dog once his probation ended. "Being honest, being candid, I still deal with my kids each and every day, you know. And for the last three years not being able to have a dog because of my acts -- And I just don't think that's fair. You know, it may be something that's therapeutic for them. And I can't take that dream away from them. That's selfish on my behalf.
"I mean, I would let them pick it out. It certainly wouldn't be a pit bull."
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