Will Philadelphians make good on their love of animals? Or is the outrage a little too easy?
When the Eagles announced that they signed a one-year-on plus one-year-option contract with convicted animal abuser Michael Vick, networking boards lit up like pinball machines. Within minutes thousands of people had Tweeted or Facebook-posted their thoughts and feelings on the signing -- most vocally against Vick and calling for protests against the Eagles. Minority pro-Vick sentiments fell into two main camps: some said the man did the time for his crime already, so let him move on. Others waxed more existential and asked, “Who gives a shit?”
Apparently, lots of people give a shit. The first smattering of posts certainly aren’t debating Vick’s potential contribution to the Eagles as an athlete. The anger isn’t sports fan anger. It’s symbolic. It appears animal lovers are outraged that Philadelphia Eagles, as so-called representatives of our city, condoned animal abuse by hiring Vick. The people in this camp say that Vick should be banned from the NFL and never throw a pigskin again. Darker hearts, kicking it Old Testament style, call for fight-trained pit bulls to be unleashed on a bacon-strapped Vick.
The online uproar is curious. Citizen promises to by-golly-do-something-about-this-atrocity are scudding across the Internet: to stop watching Eagles games, to sign an online petition, to click “No” on the Facebook quiz that asks “Does Michael Vick deserve to play again?” right next to the “Rush Limbaugh Asshole Poll.”
It will be fascinating to see if people put their money where their mouse is.
Philadelphia has a hard-earned terrible reputation when it comes to animal welfare. We are unquestionably one of the worst cities in the nation for homeless animals. It’s now an open secret: Philadelphia’s deplorable animal welfare conditions have been exposed the nepotism, cushy contracts, dirty politics and history of blatant corruption that all lead to unnecessary killing and then, cover-ups of said killings. And yet, local organizations are still desperate for volunteers.
Perhaps people who are aghast at the Eagles should take this opportunity to also become aghast at the failures of real, live, actual representatives of the city—politicians who we pay with our taxes to actually mandate and enforce civilized animal welfare.
Perhaps animal lovers can call City Hall and ask about the “community board.” They can question the statistics, which PW discovered were fudged earlier in the year. Volunteer to walk a dog or foster baby kittens. Learn about what’s going on in Philadelphia with animal welfare, really, now, in real life. What grows there isn’t pretty, but it thrives in the dark.
Garrett Elwood, vocal founder of Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia, commented on the Vick controversy: “The real tragedy is this takes the focus away from the thousands of animals being killed in Philadelphia shelters right now. Last month almost half of all dogs and three-quarters of cats were killed because the city doesn't have a lifesaving plan. The Citizens for a No-Kill Philadelphia plan to call for the mayor to intervene and convince the Eagles to reverse this terrible decision.”
Laptop activism is great if it stirs the juices and fires up the spirit. Perhaps not, if it’s a junk symbolic substitute for the real thing, making you feel like you accomplished something when you haven’t. (Maybe it works the way drinking diet soda makes you fat.) Truth: Vick’s dogs are already dead or out of his hands -- when the 31,000 dogs and cats pouring into our animal shelters are still alive, and are slipping right through our furiously typing hands.
A protest is planned at Michael Vick's introductory press conference, 11 am at the Novacare Complex.
Baptism by fire, shit storm, train wreck: These are the nice ways to describe the situation that Sue Cosby -- the new CEO of the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals -- is hurling herself into. Earlier this week, Cosby talked with PW about her new role, her vision for the city’s animal control, and what a long, strange trip it’s been.
Two weeks away from a City Hall investigational hearing called by Philadelphia City Councilman Jack Kelly to drill into the Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (PSPCA)’s mismanagement of Philly’s animal control contract, the PSCPA is coming clean on euthanasia and save rate statistics.
An activist wants to know what is wrong with Philadelphia animal control.
Insiders say Philadelphia shelter conditions have gotten so bad that animals need to be saved from the very place they go for protection. UPDATE: Councilman Jack Kelly's speech citing PW's cover story.
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Even before Michael Vick arrived in Philly, the city was known as a mecca of dogfighting. Egregious violations were met with a slap on the wrist. Now one offender has been sent to prison. Will more follow?
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