March 30, 2005 16:25 ET

Humane Society of Canada Applauds School Board Trustee's Compassion

Attention: Assignment Editor, Education Editor, News Editor TORONTO, ON--(CCNMatthews - March 30, 2005) - The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) is pleased that a Toronto school board trustee recently declared that students should be allowed to opt out of dissection class and that he is going to request that the Toronto District School Board approve new rules that will allow this.

"We're really pleased with the progressive stance that Mr. Matlow has taken on this important issue," states Al Hickey, HSC Western Regional Director. "Students shouldn't be forced to do anything that they feel is unethical or which goes against beliefs that they feel strongly about."

According to Michael O'Sullivan, HSC Executive Director, there are lots of important reasons why students shouldn't have to participate in dissection.

"Canada is a nation of pet lovers. We estimate that 6 out of every 10 households have a pet of some kind. That translates into more than 15 million dogs, cats, birds, fish and small animals. Many children are opposed to dissecting animals for religious reasons while many others are against cutting up animals for ethical reasons. It seems hypocritical to teach our children to be kind to animals and then tell them that they have to dissect many beings who have been removed from their habitat, killed and laid out to be cut open in the name of science."

O'Sullivan points out that many students feel terrible when they are forced to cut open an animal.

"Frogs, one of the species most widely used for dissection have experienced significantly diminished populations in the wild," continues O'Sullivan. "Not only does dissection drastically reduce the populations of some species, but it also affects the ecosystems and other species that live in these ecosystems."

The Humane Society of Canada fully supports initiatives which provide alternatives to the use of animals in teaching and we believe that this educational compassionate option should be available to students everywhere.

"There are excellent teaching tools that provide good information on anatomy and dissection," advises O'Sullivan. "Some computer programs not only provide good virtual dissection of animals, but they also provide information on other important aspects of biology such as ecology. Humane alternatives to the cruel, destructive and desensitizing practice of dissection are long overdue and very welcome."

Using software that can perform unlimited dissections would also save School Boards money in animal material costs, as well as dissection tool costs.

The FBI considers cruelty to animals as one of the three primary indicators of criminal potential. Scientific studies show that early childhood abuse towards animals can lead to later violent behaviour towards people. The cycle of violence it seems is continuous.

The Humane Society of Canada encourages parents to contact their children's School Board to urge them to allow students to opt out of the practice of cutting up animals. The charity is also calling on school boards, teachers and other educators to use humane alternatives that exist and which don't require animals for dissection studies.

CONTACT: Al Hickey or Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at

[For more than 17 years, Al Hickey was the Chief Executive of the BC SPCA and before that headed up the Alberta and BC Chambers of Commerce, and the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has 6 grandchildren.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 90 countries during the last 35 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. They carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, work to pass laws to protect animals, fund scientific research, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

The Humane Society of Canada depends entirely on donations to support our programs to help animals and the environment. All donations are gratefully acknowledged with a receipt for income tax purposes. If you would like to support our educational campaigns that help animals and the environment please consider making a donation
/For further information: IN: MEDIA

Contact Information

  • Michael O'Sullivan, Executive Director, The Humane Society of Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-368-0405
    Secondary Phone: 416-876-9685
    Toll-Free: 800-641-5463