Written by PETA
I have a feeling that a lot of people would have been pretty surprised if they'd seen Michael Vick walking into PETA's offices recently—not once but three times. You'd think that would be the very last place on Earth he would consider spending time. But it happened, and here's how it came about: After Vick pleaded guilty to dogfighting charges, PETA President Ingrid Newkirk—a great believer in hammering away at the seemingly impossible—contacted him to ask him to hear about animals’ feelings, needs, and desires, and to hear firsthand why people are so outraged by the suffering of the dogs fought and killed in Bad Newz Kennels dogfighting pits. Vick confirmed our belief that he had never before been exposed to this kind of information, and, after a formal preliminary meeting at PETA HQ—during which we reiterated that we're still seeking a strong jail sentence and a lifetime ban on contact with animals—he left with study materials. He returned on September 18 to take an 8-hour course in empathy and animal protection. No cell phones allowed, no going out for lunch, just learning.
The full course that Vick took, which includes homework, workshop outlines, videos, and supplemental course materials, as well as the exam questions Michael Vick returned to answer under his tutor’s watchful eye, is available here. The class included scientific evidence that animals are thinking, feeling beings, capable of a range of behavior and emotions; presentations on the specific needs of dogs; and information about the well-documented link between acts of violence against animals and crimes against humans, which PETA shares with law enforcement officers every week.
I know people can see red when it comes to any mention of Vick, so I do want to be extremely clear about our position here: While we’re pleased to have been able to show Vick facts about animals—many things he’d certainly never heard before in his life—we are in no way going to bat for him. He may have passed our empathy course, but we have asked the judge to send him to jail and bar him from ever possessing or having contact with animals. We believe anyone who might consider abusing animals should see exactly how much a known animal abuser stands to lose.
We've also sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urging him to make our “Developing Empathy for Animals” course a requirement for all NFL players. To help persuade Goodell to make humane education a part of the NFL's basic training for players, please click here.
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Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights? Read more.