Pet rescue group offers to donate dog food to shelters in exchange for tackles of Michael Vick
Pennsylvania-based Main Line Animal Rescue, known for its canny use of advertising on behalf of pets, is at it again -- and this time it's taking aim at Michael Vick.
Main Line is best known for a billboard stationed along Chicago's Kennedy Expressway that read: "Oprah: Do a show on puppy mills. The dogs need you." Winfrey took the group's suggestion and aired an exposé that has been credited with opening many Americans' eyes to the conditions in which many dogs are kept in order to supply the nation's pet stores with adorable merchandise. Earlier this year, the group brought its message to Los Angeles, unveiling a billboard decrying puppy mill conditions and urging Angelenos to adopt shelter pets.
Now Main Line has a new idea -- one that doesn't involve billboards, but instead targets newspapers in cities where Vick and his new NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, will play. The group's plan: Buy ad space in a city's newspaper shortly before the Eagles are to visit.
The ads (one of which has already run in the Washington Post) urge animal lovers to "Consider volunteering at your local shelter on the day of the game. Spend some time walking, or brushing, or bathing, or hugging a homeless Pit Bull." Future ads are scheduled to appear in San Diego, Chicago and New York.
Beyond the call to volunteerism, the ads also feature a pledge from Main Line: For every time Vick is tackled during the upcoming game, the group will donate five bags of dog food to an area animal shelter. (Since Vick is hard to catch, Main Line founder Bill Smith says the group will donate a minimum amount of food, even if he isn't tackled at all.)
"Rather than slamming the guy for the next couple of years, we thought, 'Why not come up with something funny?'" Smith explained in an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News. "We're not stupid," he added. "We're using Michael Vick to get attention." As long as some needy dogs also get attention as a result, that's good enough for us!
[Correction 9/24/09: An earlier version of this post said that Main Line had pledged to donate five pounds of dog food for every tackle of Vick. Main Line founder Bill Smith wrote to let us know it's actually five bags rather than five pounds, for a significantly larger volume of food to be donated to needy pets. We've corrected the error.]
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo: Michael Vick during a practice at the Eagles' Philadelphia training facility. Credit: Matt Rourke / Associated Press