Animal Rescue League moves annual gala from Heinz Field due to Vick signing

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The event is normally held at Heinz Field, however the ARL said the change was made due to the Steelers signing of Michael Vick.

In a news release Thursday, the ARL said:

“While we understand that Mr. Vick has made an effort to atone for his past mistakes and has worked to help strengthen animal abuse laws, we do not believe that it is appropriate for him to continue a high-profile and influential public career."

This year’s gala, which is scheduled for Oct. 31, will not include any Steelers-related merchandise or memorabilia.

Since Vick’s signing, two local animal rescue agencies have distanced themselves from the Steelers.

The Animal Rescue League announced Tuesday that it was ending its relationship with the team, and on Wednesday, Animal Friends followed suite, releasing the following statement: 

“Animal Friends is disappointed by the Steelers organization's recent decision to sign Michael Vick to a one-year contract. As an organization whose mission is to fight against animal abuse and suffering, Animal Friends cannot support the hiring of an individual who has been convicted of dog fighting and whose actions resulted in the terrible abuse and deaths of many dogs.

“Accordingly, Animal Friends has made the difficult decision to not participate in any Steelers-related activities at this time. Steelers-related memorabilia and tickets have been temporarily removed from all fundraising efforts and the donated items will be returned. Alternate prize options will be offered for raffles already in progress.

“With dogfighting still a major concern in the Pittsburgh region, we implore the Steelers organization to take a stand and actively campaign against this horrific and illegal activity. The Steelers’ voice can help to build a stronger - and more humane - Steelers nation.”

At the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center, we are acutely aware of the atrocity that is dog fighting....

Posted by Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center on Thursday, August 27, 2015

Vick encountered similar criticism when he played for the Philadelphia Eagle and the New York Jets, but he said he wants Pittsburghers to know that he’ll put in work on the field, and in the near future, he will be reaching out to local groups to continue his outreach work. 

“I can’t take it back. The only thing I can do is influence the masses of kids from trying to go down the same path that I went down,” he said.

To learn more about the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center, CLICK HERE.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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