Reports have been surfacing this week that People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wants Michael Vick to take part in an anti-animal abuse public relations campaign. On Wednesday, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk did not deny the reports to ABC News, but said any deal would have tight restrictions.
Newkirk acknowledged that Vick’s attendance at an eight-hour “Developing Empathy for Animals” course at the PETA headquarters in Norfolk might be construed as an effort to shorten his prison sentence, following his federal guilty plea on felony dogfighting charges. A sentencing decision is scheduled for December 10. But Newkirk also said PETA’s position that Vick deserves jail time remains “unswerving.”
Newkirk said that she did not feel the group was aligning itself with one of its biggest enemies, but that Vick’s public statement against animal cruelty could reach an audience that PETA can’t. “We’re not here to preach to our choir,” Newkirk said. “Our job is to try to open abusers’ hearts and minds.”
But according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Daphna Nachminovitch, a PETA official who taught the Falcons quarterback during last month’s course, said Thursday there were no plans for him to do a public service announcement.
In a statement e-mailed to the Journal-Constitution, PETA said: “If Michael Vick went on TV and said, ‘Look at me. I have lost everything — my career, my income, respect, friends. I’ve hurt my family, and I am an object of scorn. My life is ruined. I have gone from being a star to the gutter, and now I’m going to jail. Don’t be like me. If you fight dogs, stop. And if you don’t, don’t start,’ we would be very pleased.
“Short of that, it’s not happening.”