Michael Vick Rebuffs Adopter Of A Bad Newz Dog


By Steve Dale

Mel never barks (except in his sleep), and he shakes with
terror when strangers enter the house. He has good reason to be fearful. Mel’s
previous owner was Michael Vick.


Mel’s detailed history is unknown. However, it’s clear that
he was used as a kind of dog-fighting training dog. He has the scars on his
back legs to prove it. Yet, today, Mel adores other dogs. He especially
relishes when puppies pile on him

“When we first got Mel, whenever a stranger came to the
house he would stand with his back to a corner, and shake for at least an
hour,” says Dallas, TX reporter/radio host Richard Hunter, who with his
wife, Sunny, adopted Mel from Best Friends Animal Sanctuary, Konab, Utah, over
Labor Day weekend, 2009. “Now, Mel stands and shakes for only around 15
minutes,” says Hunter.

Hunter with Mel

Mel smothers family members with kisses. “I never had a strong opinion about Pit Bulls (Mel is
actually a mix generically dubbed a Pit Bull),” says Hunter. “Mel is
so sweet and so loyal. He just loves us unconditionally. It’s not the fault of
dogs; they can’t choose their bad news owners.”

Speaking of which, Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael
Vick, who operated Bad Newz Kennels in Surry County, VA, was in Dallas for the
Super Bowl and an event to honor him called Super Teen Saturday, held Feb. 5.
Hunter was among local press invited to the event, at which Vick was scheduled
to deliver a positive message to high school-age students.

Hunter accepted the invitation, hoping to ask Vick some
questions about his past involvement in dog fighting. No doubt, many reporters
wanted to do the same.

“The event was held at a bar, which is rather strange
for a press event,” said Hunter. “There were vodka ads posted on the
walls.” Hunter says he’s not sure if the event was sponsored by a vodka
company, or if the ads are just part of the bar’s decor. 

Vick was introduced and offered less than a minute of
remarks, according to Hunter. “His message was to stay in school and
choose friends wisely.” Then Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway presented
Vick with the key to the city. Minutes later, Vick headed for the door. Hunter
spoke up, as Vick and his entourage of about six were departing.

Richard Hunter’s adopted Bad Newz Kennel dog, Mel

“You said you care about the dogs, Mike (referring to
an interview in which Vick did say he cared about his former fighting dogs).
Now is your chance to talk.” Hunter held up a newspaper story with his
dog, Mel’s, photo, and added that he has one of “your dogs.”

The response, according to Hunter came form a member of
Vick’s security detail: “Nothin’ man. How many times I’m going to tell
you. I’m going to tell you to get the – – – – out of my face.” On the
YouTube video, Hunter was clearly not in anyone’s face. However, one of Vick’s
handlers was manhandling Hunter.

“Press was invited to ask questions. They couldn’t have
been surprised to hear reporters ask questions,” Hunter says. “Were
these security people or thugs?”

Before walking out, one of Vick’s security staff chimed in,
“We don’t care about the dog.”

“I wasn’t so naive as to think Vick would break down
and cry and ask me to sit on a park bench with him,” says Hunter. “I
just wanted a comment, and I wanted him to know that the dog we had is doing
well. I am now convinced Michael simply doesn’t care about the dogs.”

Like most Americans, Hunter was incensed when he first heard
that the NFL star was fighting dogs. Hunter talked about the topic a lot on his
radio talk show. After watching a piece on TV about some of the Vick dogs going
to Best Friends for rehabilitation, then interviewing a Best Friends trainer,
Hunter and his wife applied to adopt one of Vick’s dogs.

“Maybe if Vick’s response was different, I would feel
differently,” says Hunter. “But I know if Vick wasn’t caught, our
loving Mel and dogs just like him would be dead. He (Vick) wants a family dog.
You’re kidding me? Vick (according to various media reports and substantiated
by court records) actually placed pets in the ring against Pit Bad Newz Kennel
Pit Bulls at least twice, and reportedly Vick delighted in watching the Pit
Bulls cause serious injuries. What kind of person does that?”

©Steve Dale, Tribune Media Service