February 14, 2005 15:18 ET


MEDIA ASKED FOR HELP BY THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF CANADA (HSC) Attention: Assignment Editor, News Editor TORONTO, ON--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 14, 2005) - The media's extensive and dramatic coverage of "pit bulls" has led to a move by the Ontario Government to ban "pit bulls" and any other large breeds that politicians believe should be added to the list. Other provinces and local jurisdictions are also closely watching to see what takes place in Ontario as public hearings into the controversial proposed law wrap up.

"There is no question that the media continues to be a powerful moving force for change. Nowhere is this more evident than the way in which reporters have helped shape government policy on the subject of "pit bulls". And now rather than just reporting on these tragedies, we're asking the media to help us prevent dog bites," says Michael O'Sullivan, Executive Director of The Humane Society of Canada.

The charity is asking that all media consider adding the following brief message at the end of their news coverage on dog attacks: "To help us prevent dog bites contact The Humane Society of Canada at or call toll free 1-800-641-KIND."

When people visit the charity's website or call their toll free number, they will have access to "Saving Lives" which includes practical tips on how to prevent dog bites and a more comprehensive action plan for laws and educational campaigns to reduce dog bites which can be found at

"News editors and reporters would be performing a tremendous public service that would help save lives in future, if we can convince them to work more closely with us to prevent these tragedies from taking place," says Al Hickey, the animal charity's Western Regional Director.

The Humane Society of Canada's action plan calls for street proofing children about how to approach dogs, mandatory spaying and neutering of pets to reduce aggression, requirements for training courses for dog owners, heavy jail terms and fines for dog fighters, and strict inspection and licensing requirements for all dog breeders, pet shops, guard dog companies and animal trainers. A copy of the fifteen point action plan can be found at .

The animal charity points out that most of the six million dogs sharing our homes never bite anyone, and each day there are at least twelve million interactions taking place between people and dogs all across Canada.

"Demonizing a handful of dog breeds will not reduce the overall number of dog bites. Failing to have a healthy respect, awareness and understanding of dogs, is like telling my daughter that when she crosses the street, she can ignore the small cars and just watch out for the big trucks," says O'Sullivan.

A father with two children and someone who has worked with animals all of his life, he believes that we can care for people and animals at the same time. "Preventing dog bites is a complex health care issue and we have the tools at our disposal to prevent many tragedies from ever taking place. We can also reduce health care costs and animal care and control costs."

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 95 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 campaign to bring about more humane solution to the problem of dog bites please make a donation at
/For further information: (HSC National Dog Bite Awareness Campaign) (Saving Lives: The Humane Society of Canada's Action Plan to Prevent Dog Bites) HSC Dog Bite Backgrounder: 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