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Vick owning dog again scary, sick

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Greg Couch

Greg Couch has been a national columnist at AOL Fanhouse and The Sporting News and an award-winning columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. He was featured twice in "Best American Sports Writing" and was recognized by the US Tennis Writers Association for best column writing and match coverage. He covers tennis on his personal blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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You don’t have to be a Michael Vick hater to hate the idea of him owning a dog again. You don’t have to be a disbeliever in the accomplishment of serving your time or paying your debt.

I’m glad that Vick went to prison. I’m glad he’s out. I’m glad he’s back in the NFL, making money, raising a family. I wish he'd hang on to the ball. I’ve said before that I wish Andy Reid would recognize that Vick is a Ferrari and not a wreck for a demolition derby.

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I’m not even skeptical of PR motives when Vick tweets out a picture of himself sitting at a table looking at a playbook on the computer while his daughter sits next to him doing her homework. It’s sort of a nice, American ideal, really. But when you see an open box of Milk Bones dog biscuits on the table, too?

That is just scary. And sickening. Vick spent Wednesday avoiding questions about whether he has a dog again, saying his personal life is his personal life. He took down the photo and tweeted another one without the dog food. And on Thursday, his publicist issued a statement from him:

“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. “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.’’

We are left to assume that the “pet’’ is a dog, as Vick had said recently that he’d like to own one again. Vick has complained that it’s unfair that he couldn’t own one. Yes, “unfair.’’ The dog food is a hint, too.

Vick is allowed, legally, to own a dog again. After 19 months in prison for his role in the dog-fighting ring, terms of his probation denied his dog-ownership for a while. That's all in the past now.

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But some sounds ring forever. As a dog owner, it’s impossible for me to forget the terms from his indictment. The talk about wetting down dogs with water to electrocute them. “Hanging, drowning and slamming at least one dog’s body to the ground.’’

Did you know what a rape stand was before this? It’s about forced breeding.

Every argument today is always too neatly placed into opposing boxes. Good, bad. Right, wrong. Vick is a rehabilitated good guy or a merciless con man.

He should be able to go on to a normal life, with his daughter studying at the table while he works. But he also should not own a dog.

Never again.

In some parts of the country, dog fighting isn’t as awful as it is in others. It’s possible that Vick grew up with a different view than most of us did. It’s possible he has changed his view now. If so, good for him.

But I can’t even imagine who would sell him a dog.

There is no use still carrying bitterness toward him. You can forgive. Years have passed. But that’s not the same as forgetting, pretending. Vick brutalized dogs, and that dug right down into our psyche. He paid a huge price, including a huge contract. He has behaved beautifully since then, spoken out against animal cruelty.

But Vick cannot be trusted with animals. Non-animal lovers don’t quite understand the horror that animal lovers felt and they will never understand.

People can watch humans die in the movies – Taken 2? – without any issue, but break into tears at the thought of an animal limping.

Enough time has passed that I assume public sentiment will be on Vick’s side on this now. But the picture is just too hard to handle. Vick’s violence was too public. It became representative of a cause for animals.

Seeing him sit at the table with his daughter was a nice thing, really. In most cases, Norman Rockwell might have put those dog biscuits in the picture, too.

But with Vick, that just brought back too much. And when a PR person issues a statement with Vick saying he wants a pet to make sure his children develop a healthy relationship with animals? I don’t see how anyone’s stomach doesn’t turn.

Tagged: Eagles, Michael Vick

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