March 30, 2005, TORONTO – 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: Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or at via twitter at and on Facebook 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 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.]

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