HARRISBURG - A rally in the Capitol on Tuesday for a low-profile animal rights bill received a jolt of energy from a high-profile - and perhaps unlikely - guest: Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Michael Vick.

The former Eagle, who was convicted for organizing dog fights in 2007 and served 21 months in prison, urged support for legislation that would make it a summary offense to leave pets in hot cars with the windows closed.

All pets deserve humane treatment, Vick told the crowd, while acknowledging that it took him years to understand how to properly care for animals.

"I know I was part of the problem," he said, reading prepared remarks.

The event was brief but attracted scores of onlookers and fans. Vick made several other stops in the Capitol on Tuesday, including an appearance on the House floor, where he received a rousing ovation from lawmakers who were still debating how to solve the state's five-month-old budget impasse.

The 35-year-old Vick has supported other animal rights legislation since his release from prison in 2009.

The bill he was supporting Tuesday is awaiting a committee vote in the House.

cpalmer@phillynews.com 609-217-8305 @cs_palmer