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Michael Vick has paid his debt and should now be allowed back on the field

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Michael Vick is now a free man. He’s paid his penalty and now should have the right to once again make a living.

    And if he’s in shape, that should include playing in the National Football League this year.

    On Monday, Vick completed his 23-month sentence for running a dog-fighting ring. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell does not yet have a meeting with Vick on his calendar. He should hold that meeting soon and give Vick the opportunity to earn a spot on an NFL roster.

    Several teams have already said they’re not interested in having Vick on their team. Some believe the distraction would be too great. It shouldn’t be. Folks should give the former Virginia Tech and Atlanta Falcons star the chance to get his life back together.

    Some fear wherever Vick goes there would be coordinated public protests to try and harass teams into denying him a chance to play. That’s unfortunate. Those folks planning such protests should use their energy to actually take care of the animals they claim to care for, rather than wasting their efforts on protests to hound a man who has paid for his crimes.

    The only reason People for the Ethical Treatment of animals and others would hold such protests would be to draw publicity to themselves. Some might find it interesting that PETA,  as an organization, supports euthanization as a major practice to “protect” animals from abuse. In fact, PETA wanted the dogs used in Vick’s dog-fighting ring to be euthanized, rather than cared for by loving owners. A story in Sports Illustrated earlier this year made that point: “The cruelty they’ve suffered is such that they can’t lead what anyone who loves dogs would consider a normal life,” says PETA spokesman Dan Shannon about Vick’s dogs. “We feel it’s better that they have their suffering ended once and for all.”

    Instead, many of those dogs are now living in loving homes. If PETA had its way, that wouldn’t have happened.

    PETA should not be allowed to shape the debate on Michael Vick. Too many people have been duped by that organization’s supposed care for animals.

    Those who support the true caring of animals should give funds to local shelters. Here in Bedford the local Humane Society works to care for strays and unwanted pets and deserves support, even more now as it prepares to build a no-kill adoption center in Bedford. “We are confident that the residents of Bedford are a humane and caring community who will work together with us to improve conditions for area pets,” noted Doreen Ehasz, executive director of the Bedford Humane Society, in announcing recently the purchase of land for its shelter.  “Donations of services, materials and equipment, as well as funding, will be needed to make the Adoption Center a reality. This is truly a community project what will serve both people and animals alike.”

    Those projects should be applauded and supported. Protests of Michael Vick shouldn’t.

    What Michael Vick bankrolled and allowed to happen to the dogs used in that fighting ring was horrible and he was punished for that. He deserved that punishment. Now he deserves the right to move on and do what he does best — play football.

    The NFL — and the public — should give him that chance.