Michael Vick was scheduled to attend an autograph signing event at Buffalo Wild Wings in York, PA, but was forced to cancel because of the huge number of threats received from animal activists who have not forgotten—and do not want him to forget--his past involvement in dog fighting.
Joe Bartolo, owner of JJ Cards-N-Toys, who organized Vick’s intended appearance in October reports that he and his wife received nearly 1,500 death threats after they announced plans to hold the signing and had to shut down the store’s Facebook page. "
“You don't threaten my family. That’s B.S." Bartolo said. "People act big behind a computer," he added.
"We are definitely going to have the signing. The location will be released on Monday or Tuesday to customers on the store's email list but will not be announced on social media accounts,” he told YDR.com.
This isn't the first time Vick has been forced to cancel public appearances because of death threats. In March, he canceled book signings in Atlanta and Philadelphia, according to the report.
It has been more than five years since Vick was implicated in an interstate dog-fighting ring and pleaded guilty to federal felony charges. But Melissa Smith, executive director of the York County SPCA, said that many in the animal rights community remain angry.
"The animals suffered so horribly - it's not something people are willing to let pass so easily," she said. "I would think that this stigma will follow him wherever he goes with this population of people."
Last October, Vick admitted to getting a Belgian Malinois pup, and he signed up for training sessions at PetSmart. He and his family were accompanied there by a bodyguard because of the backlash from those who believe he was never sorry about what he did at Bad Newz Kennels but only sorry he got caught.
We do not have to forgive Michael Vick for what he did in the past. But is there any real benefit in denying it is possible for those who have been cruel to animals to outgrow the need to abuse and even to feel empathy?
Oleg Cassini, the famous designer who dressed Jackie Kennedy stated upon receiving recognition by the Humane Society for launching faux fur that for most of his life his efforts to excel in fashion and gain fame had blinded and deadened him to the suffering of the innocent animals who were painfully killed and skinned so that their dead bodies could adorn his designs for celebrities. We all celebrated the awakening of compassion.
Here is Michael Vick’s statement in response to backlash over adding a dog to his family:
"I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family's decision to care for a pet. 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. This is an opportunity to break the cycle. To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change."
Should we not hope this is true— at least until there is evidence it is not?