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Michael Vick debuted last night and so did SPCA


Last night, August 27th, marked the first official season game for the Eagles since the controversial signing of Michael Vick, convicted for various dog-fighting felonies.  Picketers were organized in South Philly’s Lincoln Financial Field, both supporting and disputing the recently contracted quarterback. 

2nd chance rallyThat very same evening, in North Philly, the Pennsylvania SPCA wanted to draw attention away from the fuss of Michael Vick and refocus attention from the abuser to the abused; the animals, particularly pit bulls.

The SPCA, located at 350 E. Erie Avenue, held a “tail” gating party for the many dogs up for adoption and looking for permanent homes.  With the city of Philadelphia speaking on the willingness to give 2nd chances, the SPCA’s event was appropriately called the “Rally for 2nd Chance Dogs”.

When I arrived, the rally was in full swing.  There was support from the community and a real sense of camaraderie from those in attendance.  Veggie dogs and burgers were being handed out with beverages and snacks.  Volunteers were plenty and showcasing some of the dogs up for adoption.  Dogs ran around and chased bubbles from the industrial bubble machine and ran through an agility course on the grounds.  Families with children were out to look for a new family pet.  And, happy owners of dogs they had adopted from this very SPCA brought their dogs to celebrate and show off the happiness their dogs have brought to them.  And, the majority of these dogs are pit bulls. 

Over 80% of the Pennsylvania SPCA canine population is of pit bulls or pit bull mixes.  Most of the dogs taken in to the shelter are a mix of strays picked up off of the streets, or, of dogs taken away from their owners by Animal Control often due to abusive or neglectful situations including those dogs rescued from illegal dog fighting operations.  No animal deserves to be subjected to abuse.  And the dogs that are fortunate enough to be rescued from these situations are in need of loving homes.  They deserve a 2nd chance to have a life full of love and care.

Holly Russel, the Development Associate for the PSPCA said that, though this is being held on the evening of the first Eagles season game, “This is not a direct response to the signing of Michael Vick…He’s an Eagle…That’s that.”  Holly stressed that it’s not the PSPCA’s job to protest against abusers of animals.  Rather, it’s their job to refocus people on the dogs; to remember the abused.  With all the press and interest from the public that has been sparked from the Vick contention regarding abused dogs, Holly explains that a lot of phone calls have been coming in with people asking what they can do.  “This is the perfect opportunity to introduce to the community, just how to help”.  How?  Three easy ways are 1) Monetary donations, 2) Volunteer at your local SPCA, 3) Adopt.

After spending time outside meeting and greeting dogs, volunteers and SPCA staff, I took a walk inside to look at the rest of the many dogs up for adoption.  I’d never been to a shelter that large.  There were rows of dogs.  The space felt almost like a greenhouse, full of natural light.  The divisions of the dog pens were glass block and everything was of hard surfaces (when you’re taking care of this many dogs and are keeping the shelter as clean as possible, it makes sense).  The dogs were so eager to meet anyone willing to spend a few minutes to pet them, to talk to them, to pay any attention to them whatsoever.  It’s heartbreaking.  Depending on your level of sensitivity, it’s hard to keep a dry eye.  And if you’re an animal lover, it’s hard to not take them all home.     

In addition to providing great care and shelter to dogs and other pets that need homes until they are adopted, the SPCA has another equal goal.  It is to lessen the number of animals that need the shelter that the SPCA provides.  This may seem like a near impossible task.  But, unfortunately there is often a problem with overpopulation, not only in this shelter, but all shelters across the US.  And there is simply not always enough room to provide for all the dogs in need.  In effort to prevent new litters from being born, the SPCA provides low cost neutering and spaying and requires that any pet in their shelter is “fixed” before adopting them out.

But, with these goals comes cost.  The SPCA is not government funded.  They are totally reliant on donations.  It costs money to run these programs and to take care of these dogs in need.  So, if this cause is of interest to you and if you’re so inclined, please donate.  If you can’t afford to donate money but have a bit of spare time, volunteer.  And if you’re in the market for a new member of the family, consider adoption.  These are good dogs.  Not every dog is good for every family.  So, talk to the volunteers and workers of the shelter in order to make the best decision and find the best fit for you.  But, chances are, there is a pet in your local shelter that has been waiting just for you to give them the time, love and care they need and deserve.

Some may find it hard to see true remorse in the eyes of Michael Vick.  However, there is no mistaking true hope that exists in the eyes of these dogs.   

For Aileen's photos from last night, click HERE