Vick tackles could help shelters

Updated: September 8, 2009, 9:16 PM ET
By John Barr | ESPN.com

Philadelphia -- A Philadelphia-area animal shelter is determined to proceed with its unusual Michael Vick marketing campaign, despite the recently signed quarterback's public appearance Tuesday, and despite the Eagles' pledge to enact a broad-based campaign to fight animal cruelty.

Bill Smith, CEO and founder of Main Line Animal Rescue, told ESPN Tuesday that he plans to take out an advertisement in Wednesday's Washington Post. The ad, a copy of which has been sent to ESPN, the Eagles and various national animal rights groups, reads:

"Attention Football Fans. Philadelphia is playing Washington on October 26th.

"Every time Michael Vick is tackled during the game, Main Line Animal Rescue will donate 5 bags of dog food to your local animal shelter."

A subhead on the advertisement reads:

"Because there are no second chances on an empty stomach."

"We feel guilty sending Michael Vick to these other cities," Smith said. "Maybe it's our way of apologizing for bringing Michael Vick on our team."

The advertisements will appear in the local newspapers of other cities the Eagles visit, Smith said. Washington was selected as the first city to launch the ad campaign before NFL commissioner Roger Goodell made the announcement to re-instate Vick in Week 3, Smith said.

The NFL had no comment. An Eagles spokeswoman, in an email, said that she was unaware of the plans for the upcoming ad and did not offer a comment.

Smith, who attended a recent meeting between members of the Eagles front office and Philadelphia-area animal welfare groups, says he'll also move forward with plans to place billboard advertisements near Lincoln Financial Field, the Eagles' home stadium. Smith originally told ESPN those billboards would have a strong anti-Vick message, but he has since toned down his rhetoric.

Smith told ESPN Tuesday that he is now planning to put up billboards that will raise public awareness of animal cruelty.

"There's really nothing we can do about Michael Vick being in Philadelphia," Smith said. "But I thought this would be a good way to come up with a solution where we could help a few dogs."

Main Line Animal Rescue, a no-kill shelter near Valley Forge, Pa., takes in more than 1,000 dogs a year, according to Smith.

John Barr is a reporter in ESPN's enterprise unit. He can be reached at jbarr-espn@hotmail.com.

John Barr | email

Reporter ESPN Enterprise Unit