Tag Archives: animal rescue

Michael Vick, Retiring From Football, Could Have Really Been a Hero

Today, Michael Vick released a letter to the city of Atlanta announcing his retirement from football. It’s a very well written piece about how sorry he was/is to have inflicted so much past hurt – on himself. As happened during his public statements upon his return to football, he never mentions remorse or regret for nor takes any responsibility for eight years of animal torture and murder. He regrets only his own “suffering”. In reading the tens of thousands of reactions on twitter to his piece, you see the enormous opportunity he missed today. Because he is such a good writer, he could have truly, finally, educated those of his fans who don’t have a clue (and don’t know why they should care) about dog fighting and animal abuse; a sick, criminal part of our society that makes the whole of our society more dangerous, violent and abusive toward its weaker members.

TWEET: “Michael Vick would’ve shattered the NFL record book had he not been thrown in jail for being a black man.”

That tweet diminishes every lynching, every true miscarriage of justice against blacks, every unarmed black person shot and killed by police, with its “cry wolf” ignorance.

TWEET: “Why are people still on that with Michael Vick? Y’all act like he did what he did and got away with it. No, he went to jail for 2.5 years”

Actually, he served eighteen months, (two off-seasons), and not one minute of time for his eight years of animal abuse, torture that went beyond imagination. He plea bargained a “not guilty” to that, and pled to bankrolling a gambling conspiracy. I’m an animal rescuer, so I believe in second (and third, fourth, and fifth) chances. But Michael Vick never served time for nor took responsibility for his crimes.

TWEET: “white people kill deers and hang they head up on the ceiling but michael vick cant kill a couple punk ass dogs. eat a dick”

From Michael Vick’s Letter Today: “I was sorry — sorrier than I could ever express — for what I had done. I knew the millions of dollars that I had lost, and the value to my reputation that I had lost, and every day was a reminder of the freedom that I had lost. I knew all of that.”

There’s a lot of that in Vick’s letter, the disappointment of what he had done to himself, the disappointment of not playing football, of possibly not ever getting a contract to play again, against all that he had lost. Leaving out remorse, regret, or apology for what he did to animals, and the fact that they matter and it matters, is what leads to tweets like the one above.

TWEET: “#ShopTalk with #MarcellusandKelvin: Why do you think it is so hard for people to forgive Michael Vick for his past mistakes?”

First of all #ShopTalk, a “mistake” is hitting a dog with your car. Eight years of promoting illegal and sickening dog fighting for profit at Vick’s own Bad Newz kennels, where Vick himself electrocuted, drowned, and smashed losing dogs to the ground over and over in order to kill them isn’t a “mistake”. Neither you, Vick, nor many of his fans call it what it was; torture, murder, mutilation, so let’s start there.  You know, you don’t have to be a dog lover to be appalled. Dogs are intelligent, sentient beings who feel fear, pain, terror. They are smart enough and emotional enough to be invaluable in search and rescue, to lead the blind, save soldiers’ lives, make independence possible for wheelchair users, or deaf, or autistic people. Their existence makes the world kinder and more humane. This wasn’t Richard Pryor shooting a car. In every interview I have read or seen, Vick repeats his contention that “no one ever told him dogfighting was wrong”, that others “should have told” him, etc. He was a grown man making millions and living a life which offered access to everything, but he “didn’t know”?

TWEET: “If I could go back in time and change anything. I’d go back and tell Michael Vick’s cousins to take the charge for him.” 

And you wonder why many people don’t forgive Vick? When you minimize the horror of your crimes by omitting them, you get this tweet, instead of something like, “If I could go back in time I’d make Michael Vick not torture animals”. It’s not bad that it happened, it’s bad that he got caught.

America loves to forgive, we are great at resurrection. We always welcome back the fallen star as long as the star not only pays his/her debt, but, and this is the key, takes responsibility. Muhammed Ali, extolling Islam, was convicted of draft evasion in his boxing prime, given a five year sentence, a $10,000 fine, stripped of his title. Nearly 60,000 Americans were killed and 150,000 wounded in Viet Nam. Whites died alongside blacks. Every family of every one of those soldiers had every reason not to forgive Ali. So why is he one of all of America’s most enduring, beloved heroes? He manned up. He paid his debt. He took responsibility. He never once felt sorry for himself. In fact, the way he glorified himself, with charm, humor, bravado, actually glorified his fans.

Scores of people tweeted this today:

TWEET: “Catch me boolin wit my dawgs just like Michael Vick”

And these:

TWEET: “When I get a dog, Imma train it Michael Vick style”

TWEET: “My bunny bites her cage one more time I’m gonna be the next Michael Vick.”

TWEET: “… Falcons fans were burning Michael Vick jerseys over some dogs?”

All this animal cruelty bravado, because Vick’s fans weren’t made to get it.

TWEET: “Dog fighting aside, we will never have another Michael Vick.”

And dead women aside, we’ll never have another Jack the Ripper.

TWEET: “Michael Vick & his friends did a horrific thing paid his time and spent rest of life apologizing & helping that’s his legacy PRINT THAT.”

I would if it were true. Here’s what is true. For a sad $50,000 “donation”, the Humane Society of the United States immediately cooperated with Michael Vick and his publicist to rehabilitate his image. The $50,000 was a drop in the bucket to the HSUS, but the press Vick was getting allowed the HSUS to maximize the relationship financially, as well as ride his huge publicity coattails. The Humane Society of the United States started collecting money from the public to help and care for the “Vick dogs”, which they actually never had. After that, without ever having had the dogs, they claimed the dogs “could not be rehabilitated” and recommended they be euthanized. While the Humane Society of the United States  kept the money they collected for the dogs, Best Friends Animal Society stepped in. They cleaned up Vick’s mess, along with the public who eventually adopted these incredible, loving dogs. Best friends used the always limited rescue resources of time and money to treat, help, heal, love, and re-home almost 100% of the Vick dogs. Vick made millions after his release thanks to the HSUS, and the HSUS continues to profit off his name.

Meanwhile, while Vick celebrates and profits, true animal rescue organizations continue to struggle under the weight of what Michael Vick wrought. Year after year, we do what we can to clean up the pitbull mess in America: backyard breeders breeding millions of pitbulls for fighting, most ending up in overcrowded shelters, millions being killed, millions more being bailed out at our own expense. Law enforcement saw an uptick in pitbull fighting after all the Vick publicity. He never addressed what he did, and his fans wanted to be like him.

Today was a true missed opportunity. 133 touchdowns and 22,464 yards don’t make you a hero, they make you good at football. Being a man who says to guys who want to be tough, cruelty is not the way, but kindness, love and compassion are, is a hero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top (happy) photo of JohnGarcia-Meryl-vicktorydog courtesy of Best Friends  Animal Society

Rescue, Trump, Clinton, Comedians, Charity

(Though animal rescue is the jumping off point here, my Tails of Joy website is for being uplifting and rescue-y, and this post is more put-downing and comed-y).

We received this email on our Tails of Joy contact page today:

To: Tails of Joy

From: (Oh Peeps, I wish I could)

Subject: Trust/etc.

Message:

Hey Elayne,

I moved out of CA. I’m in AZ now. I wanted to let you know that I had to remove myself from your Tails of Joy group and also you in general, which deeply broke my heart. I realize you are a public figure but you aligned yourself with Hillary Clinton a few months ago. That’s cool and your choice to do so. But I am a deeply political person and my roots lie elsewhere. I cannot trust you nor your organization or anyone that does this, either side, your organization is supposed to be for the betterment of dogs and I wanted to trust your organization to take care of my babies when I pass and also give money. Since it is so deeply opposing to me in many ways, I do not trust you, nor your organization and therefore felt unsafe leaving my most precious assets, the only thing I have been given to by Jesus here on earth, my dogs, to take care of.

I still think you are a funny comedian but moved on and got out of watching comics. They tend to only support Dems and slam and massacre Republicans or Trump fans and that is so beyond insulting it’s shameless on all of your parts.

Take care and good luck with Hillary and Bernie and all of the other things you hold dear and therefore so does your organization.

I have my babies in trust with organizations that will take care of them and there is no political bullshit.

NAME (If only I could)

And (pets names)  – Marley, Abby and Jasper

—————————————————————————————————————-

(I sincerely believe her pets did not give her permission to use their names on that.) Okay, so..

Dear (OH how I wish I could)

We were so happy when you contacted us months ago about including Tails of Joy in your estate planning. To that end we spent lots of time on the phone with you, answering all your questions, educating you about rescue, helping you explore all the different ways you could truly make a difference in the lives of desperate animals about to die. Then today we received your email. This will be my only answer to you, now and in future.

Intelligent grownups learn to work together for the greater good of their callings despite any private ideological or political differences, which never come up in, or affect the life saving work of, the world of animal rescue. Congress can’t do it, but rescuers can. I wouldn’t vote for Sarah Palin, but I’d save her cat.

By example, there are several rescue groups I have spent years working closely with, saving lives, helping each other, and socializing. One night our work went long, so I made some dinner and we started watching the 6 o’ clock news together. My greatest ally and dear friend from one of the rescue groups made a comment during the newscast, which led me to say, “Wait a minute, you’re a born again Christian? Anti-choice and everything?” She said, “Yes.” I said, “What a great tribute to us that in all these years of saving animals it never came up!!” And we fell down laughing. As I am a public figure, she certainly knew my views, but we accepted each other totally as dedicated fellow rescuers, spending our lives and our money doing something much bigger than nurturing a small-minded, selfish world view; thinking only of “me” and “mine” and trying to control others. We continue to work together in a spirit of friendship, love, and charity. THAT is what honest, decent people who are dedicated to a cause do. It’s called walking the walk. Animals about to die in the pound don’t care who you vote for, they just need rescue, medical help, love and kindness, and that’s what we give them, every day. What have you done for Jesus lately?

For twenty years, Tails of Joy has supported and given out “Little Guy Grants” to small rescue organizations across America. That includes Arizona, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Georgia, and dozens of cities all throughout the republican strongholds of the south and midwest. I never stopped to ask the rescuers I was giving checks to there who they were voting for, what their religion was, or if they thought poor women who already had six children should be forced to carry a seventh after being raped. It didn’t matter to the sick and desperate dogs and cats about to be killed due to lack of space, or crawling bloody in the road after being shot with pellet guns, or who had their jaws blown off after firecrackers were taped into their mouths and exploded. In Ohio, it’s legal to shoot a dog if he is chasing a sheep or another dog. He doesn’t even have to reach him. If you want to follow him home and kill him, though he did nothing, that is legal too. You are allowed to “pursue a dog for a reasonable time“. I don’t like that law or the state government that made it, or the people who voted that government in. According to you then, I should turn my back on homeless animals in Ohio. But I don’t, because the rescuers there are saving lives, and that is what matters. I have no personal litmus test for helping rescuers rescue. I am a true rescuer, and nothing else about me has any bearing on the amount of lives Tails of Joy has saved for decades. Animals are non-partisan. By law, non-profit organizations are also non-partisan, though somebody ought to tell that to the church.

How ironic that the word “spiritual” is part of your chosen email name. I will chalk that up to your clearly great sense of humor. Yes, I am a public figure. You knew exactly who I was as my views have been open and public for forty three years. If I have suddenly “broken your heart” because you “just noticed” my favoring some political party (a party which also “rescues”; the poor, the under-served, desperate women, ailing seniors, hungry children, newly-arrived-to-America human beings, etc. etc.), I call bullshit.

When someone tells us he/she is considering a bequest to Tails of Joy, we listen. Until you, every donor I spent hours on the phone educating and working with did indeed kindly leave Tails of Joy money to continue our fantastic work. After one conversation with you I said to my treasurer, “There’s nothing here”. But because every rescue organization is always in such great financial need, he convinced me to continue phone calls with you, though I knew better. How many animals died while I listened to you prattle on? The only animals you care about are your own. We have re-homed the orphaned pets of hundreds of people who died having made no arrangements for their future, left no money to care for them, and probably never donated a cent to a rescue group during their lifetimes. We don’t punish the animals for that, even if their previous owners watched Fox News. And I never, ever made any one of those dogs or cats vote for a Democrat. That’s their business. I’ve spent endless hours and dollars trying to help save elephants, despite their links to the GOP. I hope it’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio you have left your dogs to so they can continue living in the bubble to which they have become accustomed.

Tails of Joy does not vote. Tails of Joy does not campaign or endorse. There is not one whiff of politics or partisanship on the scores of pages on Tails of Joy. But here is the difference between rescuers and dilettantes. I won’t be voting for Donald Trump. But if he is elected, I would do everything in my power to help him make his time in office successful for the betterment of our country. You seriously need to make an immediate, sizable donation to Tails of Joy to get right with your maker for wasting so much of our time that would have been spent doing the Lord’s life saving work. It’s what Jesus would want, as you so well know in your generous, intelligent, open heart. You are a miracle.

lily

                                    Rescue fundraising for elephants with Lily Tomlin