Michael Vick has admitted that despite having served time in jail for illegal dog fighting, he and his family have a new dog.
The athlete was forced to address criticism for owning a dog after posting a photo on Twitter of himself and his daughter at home with a box of Milk-Bones dog treats visible.
"I understand the strong emotions by some people about our family's decision to care for a pet," Vick stared in a statement on Friday, according to The Boston Globe.
"As a father, it is important to make sure my children develop a healthy relationship with animals," said the Eagles' 4-time Pro Bowl quarterback. "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."
Following his sentencing over the dog fighting scandal in 2007, Vick served 21 months in prison and two months on house arrest.
The NFL star has admitted "true remorse" for the "heinous" crime of dog fighting, and has since made a complete comeback to the NFL. Vick has also worked with The Humane Society of the U.S. to speak out against animal cruelty and has made appearances at schools about the dangers of dogfighting involvement.
"This is an opportunity to break the cycle," Vick continued in his statement Friday. "To that end, I will continue to honor my commitment to animal welfare and be an instrument of positive change."
After signing in 2009, Vick went on to become the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles, and led the team to the 2011 NFL Playoffs as NFC East Champions.
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.
The 32-year-old athlete announced his engagement to Kijafa Frink in May. They wed on June 30 in Miami Beach, Florida.