There’s been a bit of media attention lately (or again) about Michael Vick‘s saying he would like to have a dog ‘as part of his therapeutic process’. Or at least that’s the way I heard it on the morning news. In case you have been living on a deserted island and have missed the on-going drama, I’ll summarize it. Pro football player convicted of running a dog fighting enterprise, goes to prison, is released from prison, is banned from having a dog, goes back to pro football, and wants to have a dog. That’s the Reader’s Digest version of the story.
So this morning I heard, and read on-line, that Mr. Vick would like to have a dog some day. However a federal judge has banned Vick from ever having a dog. A video posted on YouTube reports that Vick believes it would be a “big step in his rehabilitation process” .
In response to the Associated Press release, people have been weighing in on whether or not Vick should be allowed to have a dog. Generally I ignore such things but a comment by Whoopi Goldberg on ABCs, the View, really caught my attention. Whoopi pointed out that people who abuse children are allowed to continue to have children. The discussion then continued with an explanation that Vick’s daughter wants a dog and he does not know how to explain to her why they cannot have a dog. (I am still trying to verify this part of the story.)
OK, so there are degrees of abuse and having a child is not the same as having a dog. And promoting dog fighting is not the same as child abuse. But I’m thinking Whoopi makes a point worth considering. As a former child welfare worker and long-time child welfare advocate, I have seen some rather horrific instances of abuse. And I’ve seen people continue to have children after having seriously abused their own child or a child of another person. In some cases, sadly, children have been murdered by a parent or other adult. But only in very rare instances are parents banned by a judge from having children. (The few cases of which I am aware actually have to do with collection of government benefits over long periods of time rather than child abuse. Guess the money is the more important issue.)
As far as the suggestion that Vick wants a dog for his daughter and does not know how to explain to her why they cannot have a dog, I’ll just say this. Lots of children ask their parents for a pet. Not all can have a pet for a myriad of reasons. Dealing with such requests is part of being a parent. So my advise to Vick, man up and be a parent.
As far as having a dog to aid in a therapeutic process, I will say this. That argument is just an excuse to justify the previous dilemma about what to tell his daughter and I’m not buying it.
So, I’ll add to the media outlets and put the question out there….should Michael Vick be allowed to have a dog?
Postscript: I read in one report that the ban on having a dog is for a year and a half. If that is the case, I will repeat an earlier sentiment….man up Vick. No whining allowed. (I need to verify the time frame qualification. I’ll post an update if/when I learn something new.)