NORFOLK, Va. -- An animal-rights group bought Michael Vick's former dogfighting compound Friday and plans to turn it into a rehabilitation center for chained and penned dogs.
Vick, now with the Philadelphia Eagles, pleaded guilty to federal felony charges in 2007 and served 18 months in federal prison for running Bad Newz Kennels from the property, which led him to financial ruin. He eventually sold the Surry County property to a developer who had difficulty unloading it following Vick's conviction.
Vick: Leaving past behind is hard
Dogs Deserve Better of Tipton, Pa., bought the five-bedroom home for about $600,000.
"I think by us overtaking this property, we are winning for the dogs," said Tamira Thayne, the group's founder. "We are, in essence, giving this property back to the dogs that were abused there by using it to help other dogs just like them."
The organization paid for the house with a 30 percent down payment secured through donations and a loan. An anonymous donor has agreed to make payments for the next 10 years, but Thayne said fundraising will continue.
Ultimately, the group wants to raise $3 million to fully pay for the site, install fencing and build a facility for the dogs. The house will serve as the group's new headquarters, and Thayne said she or another staff member will live there to monitor the dogs.
The home has 4½ bathrooms, two fireplaces, cathedral ceilings, walk-in closets and an attached, two-car garage.
Thayne said she hasn't had any contact with Vick but has been told a filmmaker wants to take the quarterback back to the property where the dogfighting has occurred.
Thayne said she isn't sure what she would say to Vick if he visited.
"I would like to see that he's really remorseful, and I personally don't feel that I've seen that, because actions speak louder than words," she said. "I haven't seen him really put effort into making amends."
The former Atlanta Falcon signed with the Eagles in August 2009, less than one month after his release from prison, prompting an outcry from animal-rights groups and animal-loving football fans.
"I've come to learn the hard way that dogfighting is a dead-end street," Vick said in April in a statement posted on the Humane Society's website following the release of an application for Android phones that featured dogfighting. "Now, I am on the right side of this issue, and I think it's important to send the smart message to kids, and not glorify this form of animal cruelty, even in an Android app."
Eagles media representatives didn't immediately respond to a request for comment from Vick on the house sale.
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press