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They say Michael Vick is trying to redeem himself. The NFL superstar who participated in a dog-fighting ring that shot, electrocuted, drowned and slammed dogs to the ground now wants to bring home a dog as a pet.

Sorry, Michael Vick, there are limits to redemption. Redemption isn’t giving a bank robber a job as a teller. It isn’t letting a convicted child molester run a day care center. And it isn’t handing someone convicted of driving under the influence the keys to a car and a bottle of rum. Redemption is certainly not giving a man who participated in gruesome cruelty against animals the chance to bring home a four-legged companion.

But Vick may get to do it anyway. Why?

After pleading guilty to federal dog-fighting and gambling charges, Vick served almost two years behind bars. Now he’s out on probation. The terms of that supervised release say no dogs for Vick while he’s on probation. But, when that ends in 2012, he will be free to get one.

The Humane Society of the United States says it’s too early, but if he handles his probation flawlessly, then it might be OK to get a dog for his two daughters, who reportedly have clamored for one.

The Humane Society says Vick has spoken out repeatedly to schoolchildren, warning them about the horrors of dog fighting and cruelty to animals. That’s commendable. Still, it doesn’t erase the past.

Vick’s actions were not a momentary lapse. Vick was deeply involved in a dog-fighting ring that operated for years. The pitting of these dogs against each other is such a hideously violent activity we can only show bits and pieces of it on TV. And then there are the grisly killings of the dogs that “underperformed.”

Vick has already been rewarded for his professed contrition with another shot at the NFL. He should be thrilled that he’s back as the Eagles starting quarterback. But he insists on pushing the redemption envelope.

He does have one thing in his favor, however. He could well argue that he is the victim of a double standard. Americans love dogs. But, many animals with comparable intelligence are being treated with extreme cruelty, and most of us turn a blind eye.

Look at pigs. Millions of them are kept in gestation crates the size of their bodies and are never able to turn around. If you did that to a dog for a week, you would face animal cruelty charges.

Look at animals used for fur. Millions of foxes, rabbits, chinchillas, raccoons, minks, coyotes and, yes, dogs are cruelly raised and viciously slaughtered for fur.

So, Michael Vick, on your road to redemption perhaps your best argument is: America, look in the mirror.

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