Animal advocates react to the Philadelphia Eagles' signing of Michael Vick
The news that Michael Vick has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles is, understandably, sitting better with some than others. Some Eagles fans cheered the announcement;others planned to sell their season tickets after learning that the former dog-fighter would be playing for the home team. "If the Eagles are going to sell out, then so am I," one seller wrote in a Craigslist advertisement offering tickets for $2,000.
For his part, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie says the decision to sign Vick was an agonizing one that he didn't make lightly. "The question eventually I had to ask is, 'Going forward, is Michael going to be a negative force in society the way he's been?' " Lurie told our colleague Sam Farmer. "Is he going to be responsible for pain, suffering, disappointment, disloyalty, criminal behavior? Or is he going to have an opportunity and be committed enough . . . [to] become a force for good?"
Eventually, of course, Lurie decided to gamble on Vick, who is not only controversial and baggage-ridden but also hasn't played in a professional football game since 2006. That decision is already reverberating through animal-loving circles -- an "Eagles fans against Vick" group on Facebook had hundreds of members within 24 hours of the team's announcement.
Another former Eagles supporter, Tilton Tighe, described herself as a lifelong fan when questioned by the New York Times. "I cried," Tighe said of learning that Vick was going to Philadelphia. "Now I have to hate the Eagles. Now I don’t have a team to root for anymore. There's no possible way I could ever root for them again. It makes me sick."
A group of animal lovers protested outside the team's practice facility this morning, squaring off against staunch supporters of Vick's second chance at football glory. Here in California, Donna Reynolds, co-founder of the BAD RAP rescue group that played an instrumental role in rehabilitating Vick's dogs, expressed sympathy to dog rescuers in Philadelphia. "My heart sank for Philly when I heard the news of Vick signing with the Eagles," Reynolds wrote on the group's blog. "I can only imagine some animal workers may be so utterly discouraged that they throw their hands in the air and leave the city that has decided to embrace a man who laughed -- laughed -- while dogs were crying out in pain," she added.
Also of note: An online pet store called Hot Dog Collars, which specializes in sports team-themed collars and other pet items, posted a statement announcing that it had discontinued selling Eagles-themed pet products. The page that once featured Eagles paraphernalia has been refashioned to accept donations for the Philadelphia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
As for Vick, he expressed an understanding of the animosity dog lovers feel toward him during a press conference today. "Having committed an act that was cruel and unethical and inhumane, I understand to a certain degree," he said, but he lost no time in adding, "Our country is a country of second chances. I paid my debt to society."
Some, like Wayne Pacelle of the Humane Society of the United States, seem to agree.
But for others who know and love animals, that dog won't hunt.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo: An anti-Vick protester debates with a Vick supporter outside the Philadelphia Eagles practice facility. Credit: Christopher Barth / European Pressphoto Agency