By Carole Raphaelle Davis
Michael Vick has bought a dog. Hint: It’s not a poodle!
Now that the ban prohibiting him from owning a dog has expired, Mike Vick has bought a new dog. Steering far from the breed he is associated with torturing, the American Staffordshire Terrier, Vick has acquired a dog to suit his inflated image of his reformed self: a Belgian Malinois (similar to a German Shepherd). This is a highly bred type of dog that has a more elegant appearance than the Staffordshire Terrier, a dog with more refined lines but just as powerful and faster than the Staffordshire Terrier, and with a more complex intelligence—than Vick.
From his status-conscious choice, one can catch a glimpse of what Vick wants to be. His new dog reflects his narcissistic mirror image, a super smart, sleek, accomplished athlete, much classier than the short, plebian Pit Bull with the sawed off ears from his past thug life.
The Malinois (pronounced Malin-wah) is used by police and armed forces around the world for its versatile and extraordinary abilities, for attacking, guarding, search and rescue and bomb detection. The United States Navy SEALs used a Belgian Malinois war dog named Cairo in Operation Neptune Spear, in which Osama bin Laden was killed. The Malinois is known for having the highest energy level of any breed and the most extreme prey drive money can buy—kind of like an aggressive, pumped up pro-ball quarterback.
“In the wrong hands, a Belgian Malinois can be highly dangerous,” said Lelsie Gallagher, CEO of Two Hands Four Paws, a canine rehabilitation center in Los Angeles that works with many injured police dogs.
“Most of the police dogs are Malinois and this a breed that we deal with a lot because they get injured on the job. These are really, high strung, driven working dogs, not a family dog. They need to be on the job 24/7. They are bred to hunt things down. If you have a group of kids in your backyard, chances are the Malinois is going to go after someone.”
Vick, who, according to a USDA investigation, personally electrocuted, drowned, slammed, and hanged dogs to death, has stated he wants the dog for his kids.
The buzz in the animal protection community is that all of that Humane Society promotional reeducation and guidance for responsible and compassionate pet guardianship has apparently been tossed out the window. Vick has not even learned the basics —that you don’t buy dogs. If you are adhering to the standards of ethical pet guardianship, you adopt from a shelter or rescue organization.
How do we know Vick didn’t adopt the dog? Well, we can’t prove it but it is safe to say that had Vick gone to a rescue organization, he would have made it very public in order to maximize the opportunity to rebuild his image. He didn’t do that. Had a rescue organization allowed Vick to adopt one of their homeless dogs, they would have used the event as a fundraising and publicity opportunity, bolstering themselves with the support of The Humane Society of the United States to justify the risk to the dog. The truth is, he would have had a difficult time finding any rescue organization that would risk losing its reputation by adopting out a dog to a guy who famously tortured and killed dogs. His conviction and standing as a violent sociopath put him on a national DNA (do not adopt) list.
In the rescue community, an international web of grass roots rescuers connected by social media, the DNA list is forever. Mike Vick is still public enemy number one.
If Vick had gone to a municipal shelter to adopt a dog, where there are no questions asked because it is a public shelter system, the adoption would have been front page news. It is not even possible for someone that famous to step into a public shelter and go unnoticed. Someone would have called the press.
The other alternative is that someone gave him the dog as a gift but the Belgian Malinois was not given to him by a breeder who guards his reputation. No reputable dog breeder wants to be known as the one who sold a dog to a convicted dog killer. So we can deduce that Vick’s new dog was acquired either from an unlicensed backyard breeder or from a commercial breeder, very likely a puppy mill.
Vick could easily have bought his dog on-line from an Internet dog dealer who shipped him the pup in a crate. Commercial breeders who pose as reputable breeders on line do not do background checks. Any violent criminal can order a dog on the thousands of Web sites like nextdaypets.com and have a vulnerable puppy sent by truck or by air like a pair of shoes. Click and buy. Many unweaned puppies die en route. Sadly, this is how millions of dogs are bought and sold; and the parents of the puppies, millions of them, are doing time in a canine supermax prison for life in a puppy mill.
The only way we will know for sure is if Vick comes forward to tell the public about where he got his new dog. But that would require him to be forthcoming and sincere, traits that all dogs possess and that he does not. He got caught by a social media photo with Milkbones in the background which forced him to come clean about owning a dog.
Vick did not make a public appearance at a local shelter to adopt a homeless dog for his kids. He could have been an example of rehabilitation. He could have given a homeless dog a second chance at life, like Nike and the NFL gave him, and the grateful dog would have returned the favor.
But he didn't do that.
This could have been the perfect opportunity for the HSUS spokesperson to educate people about our pet overpopulation crisis and about the five million companion animals that are killed every year in our shelter system for lack of adopters. But he didn’t do that. And the HSUS, his redemption mentors, are conspicuously quiet.
Let’s hope this Malinois puppy makes it through the next season uninjured.
If you would like to rescue a Belgian Malinois, click here.
About the Author:
Carole Raphaelle Davis is the author of the critically acclaimed book, "The Diary of Jinky, Dog of a Hollywood Wife," an animal rights journalist and West Coast Director of The Companion Animal Protection Society. She is is a frequent contributor on animal rights issues on CNN. Carole is also an accomplished actress and recording artist. She is currently working on a new book, "Animal Wrongs" a comedic biographical series of essays about corruption in the animal rights movement and a new music CD to be released summer 2013. She lives in Los Angeles and Nice, France, with her husband Kevin Rooney and their four rescued dogs. Follow her on Twitter @caroleraphaelle .