Michael Vick’s legacy divides internet after the last dog from his dogfighting ring dies

michael vick dogfighting

The last dog rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting ring has passed away, but not everyone is on board with the uncomfortable memories dredged up by the media’s coverage.

The animal welfare organization BAD RAP, which has helped rehabilitate the nearly 50 dogs taken from the former NFL player’s Bad Newz Kennels in the spring of 2007, broke the sad news on Monday in a lengthy Facebook post. “On Saturday, we had the great honor and privilege of attending the transition of the sweet, shy Frodo as his family helped him pass over to be with the rest of the dogs from the group,” the organization stated.

“He was the last of 48 brave survivors from that game-changing case,” the post continued. “Seized and rescued in 2007, we estimate that he would’ve been 15 years old — and THIS is the important part — the last 14 years of his life were spent being pampered like a prince with the Ramirez family and dogs. Sweet Frodo — How we loved him. He was one of the bravest survivors we’ve ever met.”

BAD RAP likewise shared a graphic featuring all 48 rescued dogs from Vick’s property in the comments. In addition, the popular WeRateDogs® Twitter account also shared the news in a viral tweet.

“This is Frodo. He was the last of 48 survivors rescued from Michael Vick’s dogfighting operation in 2007,” the account tweeted Tuesday morning. “He passed away over the weekend at the age of 15, surrounded by so much love. He and the rest of his very brave friends helped change animal welfare forever. 15/10 for all.”

As the news of Frodo’s passing began to make its way around the internet, however, where it was covered by People, TMZ, and more—some folks wondered if it was fair to be dredging up such unpleasant memories. Vick, after all, served 18 months in prison before being released and making a career comeback.

In 2009, Vick signed with the Philadelphia Eagles and spent five years on the team, earning Comeback Player of the Year in 2010. He then played for the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers for one year each during his final two seasons before retiring in 2017. In his post-NFL career, Vick became an NFL analyst on Fox NFL Kickoff on FS1.

It’s also worth pointing out that after his release from prison, Vick became an advocate for animal rights, even working with the Humane Society of the United States for the organization’s End Dog Fighting Campaign in 2009. At the time, Ann Chynoweth, former director of the Animal Cruelty and Fighting Campaign, told People that the organization felt Vick had “paid his price for his crime” and that the important thing was that he was now working to end dogfighting.

So, all things considered, it seems like there is a fine line between honoring the memories of the brave rescue dogs without dragging Vick’s name through the mud yet again. And as many people pointed out on Twitter, it’s hard not to see the inherent racism of fixating on Vick while white athletes and public figures have been punished less for crimes that are just as heinous, if not worse.

“Y’all talk about Michael Vick’s dogfighting history more than Big Ben’s rape history,” tweeted Twitter user @FuxkPalmr, referring to longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who has been accused twice of sexual assault.

“White people quick to tell us to move on from slavery but still hold grudges about Michael Vick,” bluntly stated user @4OURTH__.

“I hate the media. Michael Vick at home minding his business and getting a check from Fox Sports and yaw on this bs,” tweeted user @RichBrokeSean.

A few others were also quick to bring up the fact that Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse now walks free after gunning down two people during an August 2020 protest and has now even become an alt-right celebrity.

“Meanwhile, Kyle Rittenhouse selling out arenas,” another user added.

On the other hand, NBC News journalist Tyler Conway pointed out the inherent complexities of the Michael Vick dogfighting discourse and why Twitter is probably not the best place for it.

Believe it or not, it is possible to care both about animals’ welfare and believe in criminal rehabilitation. Maybe that’s a take just a little too spicy for Twitter, though.