RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Michael Vick apologized for his immaturity and said he was ashamed and disappointed in himself when he pleaded guilty to federal dogfighting charges.
Then he enlisted one of his biggest detractors to prove it.
Vick accepted the offer of Ingrid Newkirk, president of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, to take a PETA course in empathy and animal protection. The course lasted eight hours and was followed by a ``rigorous'' test.
``Actually, we were very surprised he took us up on it,'' PETA spokesman Dan Shannon said Tuesday. ``We made it clear to him that this was something he needed to try to get something out of. We weren't interested in some kind of PR ploy.''
PETA, one of the most outspoken organizations against Vick as details of the grisly enterprise emerged, also told Vick it still thought he needed to go to prison for his crimes against animals in six years' involvement in the dogfighting operation, but the Atlanta Falcons quarterback still showed up on Sept. 18, listened to speakers from around the country, watched videos, took notes and even asked questions, Shannon said.
And when he took a written test later, he passed, Shannon said.
Vick's troubles are far from over. His lawyers were to appear in Surry County Circuit Court on Wednesday in their first appearance since he was charged with two felony counts that expose him to as many as 10 years in prison if he's convicted.
His lawyers have said they will fight the state charges on the grounds he can't be convicted twice of the same crime. In pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy charge on Aug. 27, Vick admitted helping to kill six to eight dogs, among other things. He faces up to five years in prison, while co-defendants Tony Taylor, Purnell Peace and Quanis Phillips also pleaded guilty to the same federal charge.
Vick, already scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10 on the federal charge, is not expected to attend the Circuit Court hearing, prosecutor Gerald G. Poindexter said. It is merely to determine whether Vick and the co-defendants have legal counsel or need it provided.
``It's just going to be a routine day,'' Poindexter said in a telephone interview.
Trial dates for Vick and the others are scheduled to be set Nov. 27, he said.
Vick was indicted last week in the rural county where he built a massive home on 15 acres that had been home to a dogfighting enterprise since 2001. He's charged with beating or killing or causing dogs to fight other dogs and engaging in or promoting dogfighting. Each felony is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Vick, suspended indefinitely by the NFL without pay, did himself no favors last month when he tested positive for marijuana, a violation of U.S. District Court Judge Henry Hudson's order that he stay clean in exchange for being allowed to be free.
After that positive test, Hudson ordered Vick confined to his home address between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., while subjected to electronic monitoring and random drug testing.
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Associated Press reporter Larry O'Dell in Richmond contributed to this report.

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