Animal-rights activists were divided Tuesday night over Michael Vick's promotion to Eagles starting quarterback.

Tom Hickey Sr., who was critical of the team's original decision to sign Michael Vick, expressed renewed outrage over the Eagles' decision.

"This is just another disappointing move of many that the Eagles have done since they signed him," said Hickey, a member of the Pennsylvania Dog Law Advisory board and founder of DogPAC, an animal welfare organization.

"The same hands that just three years ago were torturing and killing animals in the most brutal possible ways are now going to be given a starting job because he can throw a football."

But the head of the Humane Society of the United States said Vick has lived up to his agreements to help warn urban children away from dogfighting.

"He has been strongly committed to the program, to the anti-dog fighting program that the Humane Society operates," said Wayne Pacelle, the group's president and CEO. "I just talked to him the other day, and he reiterated that he's available on Tuesdays to continue to reach out to at risk kids and to ward them away from dogfighting."

A PETA news release said only: "As long as he's throwing a football and not electrocuting a dog, PETA is pleased he is focused on his game."

Pacelle said Vick spoke to students twice a month last year, and that the Humane Society is setting up a similar schedule now that schools are back in session. His group has worked most closely with Vick since the quarterback's release from prison after serving nearly two years on federal dogfighting charges.

"He obviously had an enormous wakeup call and I have felt that he's been strongly committed to the goals that we're advancing, which [are] the end of dogfighting in America and a heightened awareness," of the problem, Pacelle said.

The Eagles also started their own initiative to educate the public about animal abuse and provide grants to animal welfare organizations. The Humane Society's anti-dogfighting campaign received a $50,000 grant from the team, according to the nonprofit's website.

Hickey, however, said he wanted Vick and the Eagles to do more. He had called for the team to match Vick's salary with donations to animal care organizations and said the team should do more to help dogs who have been used in dogfighting.

Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com.