Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Durham News column: When do dogs get 2nd chance?

This month, I took on the subject of Michael Vick and his rehabilitation tour. He made a stop here to talk to at-risk youth. From his POV, it's to help kids learn that dogfighting can lead to your career crashing down on you. What it isn't about is restoring the reputation of a breed of dog Vick helped demonize as well as debase by shooting, electrocuting and beating to death for entertainment's sake.
Mr. Vick and many of the students he spoke to are receiving second chances to rebuild their lives with new skills and support. In Vick's case he was asked by the Humane Society of the United States to travel around the country to talk about the animal cruelty he engaged in - and how it has affected his life. His visit here in Durham touched many, including Bull City resident Jason McClairy, 19, who said he initially raised three pit bulls to fight, but after seeing the fate of Michael Vick, is now raising them as pets.

Those may be three lucky pit bulls.

...[I]n the wrong hands - like those of Mr. Vick and his cohorts - the pit bull became synonymous with unstable, anti-social, chained, aggressive dogs, bred solely for the ability to fight, maim, and kill. And that reputation led to fear and unnecessary breed-specific legislation.
I go on to compare the message of Vick's rehab tour to the work of Cesar Millan, who has done more to rehabilitate the image of the pit bull than Vick will ever do.