Sitting in a Leavenworth penitentiary for 19 months on a 2007 conviction for operating a vicious dog-fighting ring, Pittsburg Steelers quarterback Michael Vick had plenty of time to think about how to become part of the solution to preventing animal cruelty rather than being part of the problem.
Part of that solution comes to fruition Tuesday when Vick makes his way to Harrisburg to muster support for Pennsylvania House Bill 1516, which will protect dogs and cats left unattended in hot cars.
“When I was in Leavenworth, I wanted to change everything about the direction of my life. There is no excuse for my past, but it would be even worse if I did nothing about it. I can reach people that most activists can’t reach,” explained the scrambling field general who helped revolutionize the quarterback position in the NFL.
“I was part of the problem, now, I’m an unlikely advocate,” Vick explained to Yahoo Sports. “But I want to ask my fans to be advocates too. I have 5 million fans on social media and we can use those numbers to make real changes to the laws.”
Democratic Representative and House Finance Chairman Jake Wheatley explained that owners sometimes leave their pets in hot cars to run errands and that temperatures rise much quicker than they realize. “This legislation is aimed at protecting pets and preventing a tragedy, and I commend Michael Vick for leading the charge to make this proposal a reality,” he said.
A motor vehicle owner or operator commits a summary offense if the motor vehicle owner or operator confines a dog or cat in an unattended motor vehicle in extreme heat, endangering the dog’s or the cat’s health and well-being. A person who witnesses an act may contact a police officer, a volunteer or professional fireman, humane officer, security guard or other first responder, who may take any action to safeguard the dog or cat, including, but not limited to, breaking into the motor vehicle to remove the dog or cat from the unattended motor vehicle after a reasonable effort to search for the owner or operator of the unattended motor vehicle.
Penn Live reports Vick will also speak to area schoolchildren about animal cruelty and public advocacy. “Part of it is to make sure we get this bill passed into law,” a Vick spokesman said. “Another is to educate kids about animal welfare and what it takes to make a bill become a law.”
The 35-year-old former Virginia Tech standout played for the Falcons, Eagles, and Jets before coming to the Steelers as one of the back-ups to Ben Roethlisberger. So far this season he has played in five games and completed 40 passes on 66 attempts with two touchdowns.
“I don’t know how long I will play football, but I do know that I will continue being an advocate,” Vick asserts. “I have the support of a lot of people. To me, as long as I can make a positive impact, nothing else matters.”