TORONTO, August 18/2002 - Toronto pet lovers are being warned that leash free parks for their pets may be at risk, says Michael O'Sullivan, Executive Director of The Humane Society of Canada (HSC). "Many people are not aware of the rules and regulations to establish and maintain a leash free area - and even more people are not aware that this can be subject to an annual review by Toronto civil servants and politicians," he said.

 

Along with many other concerned citizens, O’Sullivan says he and his organization mobilized a turn out of over 100 pet lovers at a meeting with Councillor Sandra Bussin earlier this summer because they found out that a handful of citizens were working to try and eliminate a leash free area in the Beaches area of Toronto.

"As a long time Beaches resident, and as someone who has canine companions, I was compelled to defend all dog owners against those who were complaining unfairly about all dogs and their owners. Let’s get one thing straight: walking with my dog is a valid recreational use of the park, and I don’t need to apologize to anyone for doing it," said O’Sullivan.

He was also aware that there had been a nasty neighbourhood battle last year over a leash free area near Sunnybrook Park.

"And let’s keep things in perspective shall we. There are about 1,000 dogs living in the Beaches who are walked at least twice each day, and along with the hundreds more dogs who visit each day this means that there are several thousand positive interactions between dogs and people that take place each and every day," he said.

"The potential for conflict each day is truly staggering and yet when you weigh the good experiences against the actual number of complaints then you can only arrive at one inescapable conclusion - that the overwhelming majority of people and their canine companions are already good citizens and are in fact a model for other park users to follow," said O’Sullivan.

He says that when people are out walking with their canine companions, that they also serve as a neighbourhood watch to discourage the use of drugs, alcohol and other crime related activities.

The Humane Society of Canada urges pet lovers not to take anything for granted when it comes to Metro civil servants or elected officials. "We urge everyone to learn about what they have to do to establish and maintain a leash free area by visiting the Metro City website.

The Humane Society of Canada is also ready to help defend the rights of pet lovers to walk with their canine companions in leash free parks. It’s good exercise and reduces tension and energy. And your taxes pay for it. Please let us know if you believe those rights are at risk by calling (416) 368-0405 or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

CONTACT: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at www.humanesociety.com via twitter at www.twitter.com/HSCanada and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Humane-Society-of-Canada/211468055538280

[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 was the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has been The HSC Western Regional Director for over 12 years. He has 4 children and 6 grandchildren. For his lifetime of achievement dedicated to helping people, animals and the environment, we have bestowed upon him our prestigious Heroes for Animals Award, shared by only a handful of people and organizations.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, Michael O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 110 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works to protect dogs, cats, horses, birds, rabbits and small animals, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. We 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, use a multidisciplinary approach, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres, and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

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