Two Star Athletes’ Very Different Approaches to Animal Abuse

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In a recent Houston Chronicle article, Rockets small forward Ron Artest openly admits that he doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to animal care. In the article, he confesses that because he spends a lot of time traveling, he once left one of his dogs vulnerable to neglect. In a refreshingly candid admission, he says, “I was an irresponsible pet owner.”

What sets Artest apart from other “irresponsible pet owners,” though, is that he is man enough to admit that he’s made mistakes, and he’s now doing all he can to educate others so that they don’t make the same mistakes he did. “PETA came and showed me how to be a better pet owner,” he says. “I loved my dogs. You just need to be more mature and accountable for how you treat your animals. I had to be educated.”

These days, Artest can be found volunteering his time to help the Houston Humane Society or lending his star power to PETA’s campaigns. “I’ve told my people that whenever [the Houston Humane Society] need[s] me for something, they’ve got to make it happen,” he says. “I’ve always loved animals. Now I’ve learned how to be responsible.”

In a video that was shot behind the scenes at the photo shoot for his PETA spay-and-neuter ad, Artest talks about his passion for helping animals, and he also condemns dogfighting. (He has even placed a plea right on the front page of his personal Web site to urge people to spay and neuter their animal companions.) Check out the interview b-roll here:


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Speaking of dogfighting, another star athlete who has had run-ins with the law over his treatment of dogs isn’t exactly jumping through hoops in an effort to show that he’s learned the error of his ways. Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback and convicted dogfighter Michael Vick did attend PETA’s “Developing Empathy for Animals” seminar, but he has not gone out of his way to show the public or his fans that he feels any remorse for torturing and killing dogs.

Now, just as he is on the verge of being released from federal prison, Vick is reportedly shopping around for a book deal. It’s pretty unlikely that his book will be subject to the “Son of Sam” law (which is a type of law that aims to prevent criminals from profiting from their crimes) because Vick’s victims were dogs. Unless the book basically consists of the words, “I was a sick, cruel, despicable jerk, and I’m sorry,” and all the proceeds go to animal protection charities, we ain’t buyin’ it.

Written by Jennifer Cierlitsky

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