When NFL star Michael Vick pled guilty to running a dog fighting ring on his property in 2007, he sparked instant and intense outage across the country. Vick’s violence against pit bulls ― he also admitted to killing six to eight dogs by hanging or drowning ― infuriated animal lovers, and one activist who was particularly disgusted was Humane Society president Wayne Pacelle.
As Pacelle told Oprah during an interview for OWN’s “SuperSoul Sunday,” he and the Humane Society were very vocal in their condemnation of Vick’s horrifying acts.
“We demanded his prosecution because what he did to the animals was barbaric. It was despicable,” Pacelle says.
Vick ended up suspended from the NFL and served 19 months in prison. Then, the disgraced athlete reached out to the very people who had written him off the moment his cruelty surfaced publicly.
“One of his people called me just before he was getting out of prison, and they said, ‘Michael would like to work with the Humane Society of the United States on its anti-dog-fighting work,’” Pacelle recalls.
Pacelle, who figured the request was little more than a PR move, said no and hung up the phone. “I thought, ‘OK, this guy wants to do a makeover. He wants to use me for that,’” he says.
But then, Pacelle began to reflect on himself and his mission..