Should Michael Vick ever own a dog?

? My dog is dumb as a stick, but that doesn’t necessarily make him a bad person. He’s just gifted in other areas — such as chewing himself raw or hurling himself across the dinner table in pursuit of scraps. Trust me, the guy would Fosbury Flop across the Panama Canal to acquire the dead end of a stale french fry.

I love him still, in that way you love things that need you a little more than you need them — bosses, hamsters, street mimes.

Michael Vick, former resident of the federal penal system and now a contributing member of the Philadelphia Eagles, one of those win-at-all-costs football organizations that Nietzsche could have coached, knows the value of a dog as well.

Vick wants one in his stocking come Christmas. Not this Christmas, for the courts won’t let that happen. But when those pesky probation terms end … yeah, he wants a dog again.

“I think it would be a big step for me in the rehabilitation process,” he said.

Thing is, a lot of people don’t really care about Vick, for he can take care of himself. No, what people are concerned about is this poor potential dog.

It’s easy to see why Vick would like a pet. A dog offers unconditional love in a very conditional world. A dog waits up nights for you, shares his bed, let’s you sit under him on the couch.

So it seems obvious why Vick would want a puppy, for the same reason we all want puppies. For our kids, for our cold and clammy hearts.

Things got messy this week, not on the field, where Vick can hurdle messes quite deftly (see Giants-Eagles highlights).

This mess is off the field, when Vick said he’d like to have a dog, then the head of the Humane Society of the U.S. seemed to say he wouldn’t mind that happening — a thunder statement that shook the pet world, though the Humane Society director now says he was misquoted.

In protest, an outfit called took out an ad in The New York Times on Sunday. They say a $50,000 check from the Eagles this year essentially bought off the Humane Society honcho.

Basically, the question still comes down to this: “Should Michael Vick ever have a dog?”

He will, probably, no matter what we think. The courts have banned him from owning a dog through May 2012, but after that he is free to do what he likes. When that happens, the little pup will be like royalty born, his every move scrutinized.

In defense of Humane Society President Wayne Pacelle, who has been painted as a scoundrel but is nothing like that at all, Vick can do a lot to help dogs. Currently, Vick turns out twice a month with Pacelle to campaign against street fighting.

It is this growing phenomenon of street fighting that leaves the Humane Society feeling the most powerless. And it is in street fighting where Pacelle sensed some teachable moments.

“At the end of his prison term, (Vick) wanted to talk,” Pacelle says by phone from Washington. “I was skeptical, but I thought his story would be a great cautionary tale.

“I’m not promoting him having a dog. … We’re definitely not advocating that he have a dog.”

Turns out this issue is not as cut and dried as you’d hope. There is nuance and gray areas, which always require more thought than we’d like to muster.

But still, the question will linger for the next 17 months: Should Michael Vick ever have a dog?

You shouldn’t pay for a dog with mere money. You should pay for him out of the kindness of your soul.