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Eagles meet with animal welfare groups

Animal rights groups met with Philadelphia Eagles management this week for a two-hour discussion described as spirited, cordial and candid.

For the Eagles, it was an attempt at damage control — soothing the ire of animal lovers upset with the team signing convicted dogfighter Michael Vick.

For animal welfare activists, it was a chance to urge the Eagles to play a role in fighting animal abuse.

Vick wasn’t in attendance at Monday’s meeting, NBC in Philadelphia reported.

“I thought it was a good first step in making the best of what we all think is kind of a horrific starting situation,” said Rich Britton, with Chester County’s SPCA.

The team extended the invitations, reaching out to representatives of the area’s animal welfare groups.

“I have to give the Eagles high marks,” said District Attorney Lynne Abraham, who praised the team for setting up the meeting and having top management attend it. She was invited by the team to lend a “prosecutor’s perspective” to the discussion.

Abraham declined to discuss details about the private meeting, but talked about how widespread the problem of animal abuse and neglect is in Philadelphia, and how one form of abuse can lead to another. “I need to point out that everybody who’s involved with sexual abuse of children first started out abusing animals,” she said.

Tom Hickey, Sr.,  of DogPAC, said he believes the upshot of the meeting was that the Eagles have a responsibility to battle dog fighting because of the Vick hire.

“I was encouraged because I think about 90-percent of the meeting was spent on what partnership can be formed between local humanes and shelters in the Philadelphia area. Very little time was spent on the Michael Vick redemption plan, which I was encouraged by,” said Hickey. He wants the Eagles to put the equivalent of Vick’s salary toward animal welfare groups in the region.

“I left the meeting with the thought that there’s definitely serious intent to work with us.”

No one seemed sure of exactly what the Eagles might offer up next, but there did seem to be a collective sense that some type of partnership will evolve.

“This has been a huge learning process for a lot of us here at the Eagles, said Pamela Browner Crawley, Senior VP of Public Affairs for the team. “We feel like bringing Michael Vick here, we have an obligation to work with the community… and this was a good beginning.”


Comment from Mary Haight
Time August 26, 2009 at 7:19 pm

I would love to see a sense of responsibility to the animal welfare community come in the form of a serious monetary involvement. I hope much good comes of this.