- Associated Press - Thursday, December 16, 2010

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Michael Vick hopes to own a dog again someday.

The Eagles quarterback and convicted dogfighting-ring operator told TheGrio.com in a video interview posted this week that he genuinely cares for animals and one day hopes to have a dog as a household pet.

“I would love to get another dog in the future,” Vick told the website, which is affiliated with NBC and focuses on African-American issues. “I think it would be a big step for me in the rehabilitation process. I think just to have a pet in my household and to show people that I genuinely care, and my love, and my passion for animals.”

Vick served 18 months in prison after being convicted in 2007 in the Virginia-based ring. The federal judge overseeing the case prohibited him from owning a dog during three years of supervised release after prison.

Vick should be banned from owning dogs for life,” Jane Dollinger, spokeswoman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said in a news release this week. “Just as convicted pedophiles aren’t allowed free access to children, anyone who is responsible for hanging, electrocuting, or shooting dogs and who causes them to suffer in other unimaginable ways should never again be allowed access to dogs.”

Since his release from prison, Vick has become an advocate for the Humane Society of the United States and makes school appearances to talk to students about his past. The group’s president, Wayne Pacelle, said it could be a “good thing” for Vick to own a dog, just not yet.

“It’s too soon for Michael Vick to have a dog. Pet-keeping is a privilege and he lost that privilege when he committed atrocious acts of cruelty in the months and years before his arrest in 2007,” Pacelle said in a statement Thursday.

“I agreed with the judge’s ruling that he should not have a dog for at least a three-year period after his incarceration. But the court did not decide to impose a lifetime ban, and based on the work for animals he has undertaken since his release from prison, I don’t believe he should be forever banned from adopting a dog for his two daughters,” Pacelle said.

Pacelle and Vick spoke to 2,000 at-risk children in New Haven, Conn. last month, and Vick has since talked to 600 more kids at two Humane Society events in Philadelphia.

Vick told TheGrio.com he’s doing that work because he wants to.

“The court doesn’t make it an obligation for me to go out and speak,” Vick said. “It doesn’t make it an obligation for me to work with the Humane Society. I’m putting in the hard work to do it so it’s not for any personal benefit, it’s to help others.”

Vick’s on-the-field success this season has made his story more compelling _ from star quarterback to reviled dogfighter to comeback kid. And now he’s adding mentor to his resume.

“I think if I can help five or six kids daily, then I’m playing my position as a positive role model in our society,” Vick told TheGrio. “I tell a lot of people that it’s easy to do the wrong thing. It’s hard to do the right thing.”

Vick said he allowed outside influences to affect his behavior, but said prison helped him see the changes he needed to make.

“I hate to use our culture as an excuse, but it is what it is and that’s what happened and that’s the way I thought about it growing up,” Vick told TheGrio about dogfighting. “This is just the way we were brought up.”

Story Continues →