It’s always a good thing when we add allies to the cause—that’s what nourishes any social movement and allows it to grow and expand. Yesterday, we gained a powerful new ally when the Philadelphia Eagles announced the team’s new Treating Animals With Kindness (TAWK) program. Eagles President Joe Banner joined Christina Lurie, wife of team owner Jeff Lurie, in rolling out the elements of the program and pledging that it would be one of the franchise’s major, ongoing philanthropic and community service efforts.
B. Kent/Philadelphia Eagles
The TAWK program, triggered by the Eagles’ signing of Michael Vick and complementary to his own ongoing efforts to speak out against animal cruelty, will focus on promoting spay/neuter programs, anti-cruelty efforts, and anti-dogfighting campaigns. Banner and Lurie premiered two public service announcements featuring three top Eagles defensive players and also announced the first three $50,000 grants awarded through the program, to the Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), the Humane Society of Berks County (HSBC), and The HSUS. PAWS plans to use its donation for the construction of a low-cost spay and neuter facility in Philadelphia, and HSBC will use the money to support a mobile veterinary clinic that serves Reading, Chester, and part of Philadelphia. The HSUS will use the money to seed our effort to bring our End Dogfighting campaign to Philadelphia. We operate similar programs in Chicago and Atlanta, reaching out to young people at risk of involvement in dogfighting.
In addition to dogfighting problems in Philadelphia and other parts of the state, Pennsylvania is now just starting to grapple with its major puppy mill problem. It is, moreover, the only state in the nation where live pigeon shoots are openly held, and it has a large-scale factory farming problem. It is exciting to see one of the region’s iconic sports franchises associate itself in such a major way with the cause of animal protection and invest in it.
This morning, several Eagles staff members joined me and Michael Vick for an assembly before about 100 kids at Germantown High School, situated in a disadvantaged part of Philadelphia. Vick spoke quietly but powerfully about the mistakes he made and urged kids to steer clear of dogfighting and other forms of animal abuse. I also spoke about the importance of being kind to animals, and we showed two videos—one about the importance of spay/neuter and the other about our Pit Bull Training Team in Chicago.
If we had not agreed to engage in such work with Vick, we simply would not be reaching nearly as many kids in urban communities with our message. And now with the Eagles’ help, that outreach program will expand to reach the 8 million people in the team’s media market. According to the Eagles’ survey work, three-quarters of the 8 million people are rabid Eagles fans. We are excited about the possibilities of sensitizing more of them to our message of concern for animals.