07/19/2011 05:30 pm ET | Updated Sep 18, 2011

Michael Vick Lobbies Congress To Punish Dog-Fight Attendees

WASHINGTON -- The latest step in Michael Vick's road to redemption took place on Tuesday in Washington, where the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback appeared for the first time on Capitol Hill to lobby members of Congress to pass the Animal Fighting Spectator Prohibition Act, a bill to prohibit attendance at organized animal fights.

A former star quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons, Vick pleaded guily to felony dog-fighting charges in 2007 and served a 23 month prison sentence. The graphic nature of the charges garnered national attention, and the negative publicity nearly ended Vick's football career.

Since his release in 2009, the athlete has become an outspoken advocate for the campaign to end animal fighting, frequently partnering with the Humane Society of the United States for campaigns on the issue.

“Too many kids get involved in dogfighting, and it’s time to break this cycle," Vick said at Tuesday's press conference on Capitol Hill. "Animal fighting is a dead-end road for the young men, and there’s nothing but terrible outcomes for the dogs placed in a pit to fight."

The bill to punish dog-fighting spectators was introduced last week by Vick's own home state congressman, Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Ohio.). Vick called the bill "another opportunity to strengthen the law and establish an even stronger deterrent [against animal fighting].”

It is currently illegal in 49 states to attend an animal fight, but the bill imposes federal penalties in addition to various state penalties. It would also make it a felony to cause a minor to attend an animal fight.