PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania - Philadelphia Eagles star Michael Vick, who served 18 months in federal prison for his role in a dogfight gambling ring, admitted in a statement on Friday that he now owns a pet dog.
Vick was a superstar run and pass threat for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007 when he was suspended indefinitely by the National Football League for his role in financing a dogfight scheme run by his friends.
Evidence revealed in the case detailed Vick killing dogs in such brutal ways as beating, drowning and electrocution. That made him, the Falcons and the NFL a target for protests from animal lovers.
Vick had repeatedly said that he wanted to own a dog one day but can understand while some will feel that is inappropriate given his history.
"I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family's decision to care for a pet," Vick said in a statement. "As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals.
"I want to ensure that my children establish a loving bond and treat all of God's creatures with kindness and respect. Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family."
Vick said his ownership of a dog will show just how changed he has become since his prison stay.
"This is an opportunity to break the cycle," Vick said. "To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change."
The matter became public after Vick posted a family picture on his Twitter account that included a box of dog biscuits in the background.
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