Established in 1965, HAWS assists over 6,000 animals and welcomes more than 31,000 human visitors annually. As an "open admissions" shelter we lead the community in animal welfare and assure sanctuary for all animals in need, regardless of age, health or temperament. HAWS is a non-profit, entirely donor-fund organization with an active humane education program, and both wildlife and companion animal rescue services for Waukesha County.
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We have plenty of Green Bay Packers fans here at HAWS, and this weekend's matchup with Philly is a common topic of discussion - in and outside of work.
But, as many know, it isn't just about the teams when one of the teams has Michael Vick as their QB.
"So, since you're all about animals, how do YOU feel about Michael Vick?"
Most of my co-workers and I have gotten asked this question in the past, but the questions are more direct this week. (I can honestly say that my opinion on the matter is no different now than it has been for the past several years: What Vick did to the dogs in his "care" was beyond cruel and inhumane, and I was glad to see he was punished and imprisoned.)
But has he paid his debt to society? Is he truly sorry? Has he changed? Does he deserve to be back in the NFL? I wish I could definitively answer those questions, but I can't. And I know I wouldn't really have the intestinal fortitude to meet the man and ask him in person.
So the debate continues. THAT, however, is the silver lining! (Really, there is one - keep reading.)
As long as Vick is playing (well) and is in the spotlight, the debate and the issue of dog fighting remains in the public eye. His "fame" allows for continued awareness of the problem of dog fighting, its cruelty and pervasiveness (don't kid yourself, dog fighting is going on in Wisconsin). It gives the animal welfare world a great opportunity to teach how wrong dogfighting is, and we can take more steps towards ending it.
I'm not as big-hearted as a dog - the species is incredibly forgiving and loves us no matter what. All the more reason to welcome the "Vick question," and I have an answer at the ready:
"I'm glad you asked that. For me, it's not about Vick, but about the dogs. Here's what you can do to help..."
By the way - Pitbulls, pit mixes...all the "bully" breeds make GREAT pets. Don't discount them because of the stereotypes or negative images you see. Do your research - talk to pit owners and their families - and THEN decide.
Even if you aren't the lucky guardian of a Pit, you can help dispel the myths about them. No, they're not pre-disposed to being mean or to fight - like any dog they are the product of their environment. (Bite cases involving Golden Retrievers are more common!) Like any intelligent, strong and active breed, when given structure, training, exercise and love, a Pit Bull is a fantastic companion. They're lovers, not fighters...