AS YOU MAY HAVE READ, Eagles quarterback Michael Vick's former home in rural Virginia is going to the dogs.
A Pennsylvania-based, animal-rights advocacy group called Dogs Deserve Better plans to move onto the 15-acre property in Surry County, Va., formerly owned by No. 7, and convert it into an animal sanctuary. In early July, Tamira Thayne, the group's founder, will take up residence on the second floor of the white-brick, five-bedroom McMansion featuring vaulted ceilings, a chandelier and two whirlpool tubs, leaving the entire first floor as a temporary home for nine rescued dogs.
"It's a beautiful house. It's pretty much why the property was as expensive as it was," explained Thayne, who closed on the $595,000 deal last month.
I cringe at the idea of nine dogs roaming under that chandelier and soiling the cream-colored carpeting. There's something unseemly about wrecking a perfectly nice crib like that. It just seems wrong.
But there's no denying the poetic justice of allowing four-legged critters to enjoy the creature comforts of Vick's former house at 1915 Moonlight Road in southeastern Virginia. I can see them now, soaking in the hot tubs and having their meals prepared on the gleaming granite countertops. Their luxurious new digs will be a stark contrast from the cement prison of the Bad Newz Kennels.
Talk about payback, doggy-style.
Vick, former quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons, served nearly two years in federal prison for his role in a dogfighting ring once housed on the grounds of his Virginia home. He lost millions in wages and endorsement deals. And while I know I'm going to catch it for saying so, I really believe Vick is sorry for his involvement in that dogfighting mess.
A lot of folks don't believe that people can change, but I'm a big believer in redemption and second chances. Vick has more than earned the shot the Eagles gave him, so his haters need to get over it already. He's even cool with the Dogs Deserve Better sanctuary, in concept at least.
Through a publicist, Vick told the Washington Post, that he believed "it would be positive and beneficial for a rescue group to purchase the property and create an animal sanctuary."
Turning Vick's former house into doggy heaven on earth is a brilliant way to draw attention to animal-rights causes.
The idea of rescued dogs running free on the grounds of a former dogfighting ring makes me smile.
All those dogs living inside the house, though, I'm not so comfortable with.
The dogs, Thayne said, won't be moving into any of about 20 outdoor kennels where animals were housed during the Bad Newz days.
"That's where Vick's dogs lived, so that's going to be a memorial area. We want to keep that intact," Thayne explained. "We plan to get pictures of the way it was when it was first found.
"I kind of picture it kind of like Auschwitz . . . a place that had such horrible things go down there, but you kind of want to preserve it for posterity to show it should never happen again," said Thayne, whose foundation is based near Altoona, Pa. "We are going to open to the public probably a couple of weeks after we get in there."
When authorities raided Vick's property in 2007, they removed more than 70 dogs, mostly pit bulls.
A developer initially purchased it, but the property languished on the market for several years before Dogs Deserve Better scraped together a $178,000 down payment.
"We wanted a facility for years, but you know how funding goes," Thayne said.
She hopes a trucking company will volunteer to move Dogs Deserve Better to Virginia. DDB also could use some free fencing.
By the way, Thayne isn't spooked the way some folks might be by the atrocities committed by previous occupants. Reporters who have toured the properties have described seeing chains and syringes, among other horrors.
"It's almost like they welcomed us to come there and do the right thing," she said. "I think the souls of the dogs want us there. They want us to save others who lived as they did and they want to be memorialized."