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After skirting the issue for quite some time now, NFL quarterback Michael Vick (pictured) finally admitted Thursday that despite having served time behind bars for illegal dog fighting, he and his clan are now the proud owners of a dog, reports the Boston Globe.

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The Philadelphia Eagles four-time Pro-Bowl player, who spent 18 months in federal prison on illegal dog-fighting charges and who became the poster boy for animal cruelty, released a statement regarding his new dog:

“I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family’s decision to care for a pet,” said Vick. “As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals. I want to ensure that my children establish a loving bond and treat all of God’s creatures with kindness and respect. Our pet is well cared for and loved as a member of our family.”

Vick, who was released from prison nearly four years ago, partnered with the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) to become their ambassador to further the organization’s mission to end acts of barbarism against animals. He has worked diligently since his release to right his wrongs against animals by making appearances for HSUS’s anti-dog-fighting campaign and starring in videos that will remind people to report animal-fighting crimes to help build humane communities.

Watch Vick talk to Congress about dog fighting here:

Vick was banned from dog ownership until he had completed his probationary period.  When the athlete first hinted at owning a dog, his comment sparked an outrage from animal lovers everywhere.

Meanwhile, the 32-year-old married Father of two, who was vilified for his heinous crime, has made a complete comeback to the NFL, in spite of the bleak playing career that stood before him at the time of his crime.  Despite starting only 11 games and playing in just 12 games, Vick set career highs in passing yards, passing percentage, quarterback rating, passing touchdowns, and rushing touchdowns.  In 2012, he was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and was selected to his fourth Pro Bowl appearance.

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