Private, spirited, cordial and candid. That's how devout animal lovers described their two-hour meeting Monday night with Eagles management.
"I thought it was a good first step in making the best of what we all think is kind of a horrific starting situation," said Rich Britton, with Chester County's SPCA.
The team extended the invites, reaching out to representatives of the area's animal welfare groups, one week after signing dogfighting felon Michael Vick. Vick was not at the meeting (since he's not part of the management team) but Eagles President Joe Banner was and that seemed to buy a lot of goodwill.
"I have to give the Eagles high marks, that Mr. Banner and Ms. Crawley were prepared to sit there as long as they did," said District Attorney Lynne Abraham. She was invited by the team to lend a "prosecutor's perspective" to the discussion.
The DA wouldn't go into details about the meeting because it was private, but talked about how widespread the problem of animal abuse and neglect is in Philadelphia, and how one form of abuse can lead to another.
"I need to point out that everybody who's involved with sexual abuse of children first started out abusing animals."
Tom Hickey, Sr., went into the discussion skeptical. He came out hopeful.
"I was encouraged because I think about 90-percent of the meeting was spent on what partnership can be formed between local humanes and shelters in the Philadelphia area. Very little time was spent on the Michael Vick redemption plan, which I was encouraged by," said Hickey, Chairman of SavingPuppies.com. He wants the Eagles to put the equivalent of Vick's salary toward animal welfare groups in the region.
"I left the meeting with the thought that there's definitely serious intent to work with us."
No one seemed sure of exactly what the Eagles might offer up next, but there did seem to be a collective sense that some type of partnership will evolve.
"This has been a huge learning process for a lot of us here at the Eagles, said Pamela Browner Crawley, Senior VP of Public Affairs for the team. "We feel like bringing Michael Vick here, we have an obligation to work with the community… and this was a good beginning."