November 10, 2004, VANCOUVER - The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) is celebrating National Animal Rescue Week (November 14-20) and is asking Canadians to honour the thousands of children, women and men working in communities to help animals. The dedicated people who work behind the scenes in rescue groups, animal shelters, pounds, humane societies and SPCAs. "Each and every day these caring people help stray, unwanted, injured and abandoned animals and wildlife. It is a very stressful, often thankless, effort to bring new hope to animals that have no one else to turn to," according to Al Hickey, HSC Western Regional Director, a 25- year veteran of the humane movement.


"Barking dogs, meowing cats, frightened pets, injured wildlife, animals to care for - these are just a few of the things that these dedicated people deal with each and every day, while helping animals. But by far, the most heart breaking thing of all is when these people have to take an animal's life," says Michael O'Sullivan, HSC Executive Director, who has a houseful of pets and has worked in animal protection for over 35 years.

"It's one thing when you have to put an injured animal to sleep that is suffering and has no chance of recovery. But when you look into the trusting eyes of a dog or a cat that is healthy, but no one wants to adopt, and you have to put them down, it simply breaks your heart." says O'Sullivan.

And he puts the blame for pet overpopulation where it belongs: on those people who don't think about the tremendous responsibilities involved before they get a dog or a cat, and simply get rid of their pet when he/she becomes a burden; and on those who refuse to have their pet spayed or neutered.

"Each year across Canada, tens of thousands of healthy animals are killed because there are simply not enough permanent loving homes. It is a bitter irony that those who care about animals more than the average person, are the ones who wind up ending an animal's life. People in the humane movement are sick and tired of doing society's dirty work, and cleaning up after irresponsible people," says O'Sullivan.

"The emotional and physical stress of killing animals who animal rescue workers have come to know and care about is devastating. The humane movement has lost a lot of good people who have become burned out because they can't take it any longer. There are two victims here, the animal who loses his/her life, and the loss of a caring animal rescue worker who becomes too attached to animals and can't take the pain any longer.

HSC Executive Director Michael O'Sullivan also wants people to recognize the incredible efforts of those who work on the various issues affecting animals: "Bringing about effective change to help animals only happens becomes of thousands of dedicated people working tirelessly to bring about even the smallest of changes," says O'Sullivan. "And we are moving ahead to achieve greater things for animals, although the speed of that progress often seems painfully slow, it is taking place and making a better world for all of us."

He says that greatest obstacles to success are often politicians who won't pass stronger laws to protect animals, and industries that work to exploit animals. "However, in the end, as more and more people become involved in protecting animals, we will build and sustain a truly 'humane society' with or without their help," says O'Sullivan.



The Humane Society of Canada is asking everyone to help animals in need by doing what they can such as:

  • Adopt an animal from a rescue group, animal shelter, humane society or SPCA instead of a pet shop or a breeder and encourage friends and families to do the same
  • Only when there are no more homeless animals we will recommend adopting pets from any other source
  • Have your pet spayed or neutered before they have a litter or are responsible for making a litter and educate others as to the importance of this operation
  • Support organizations and individuals who help animals by donating money, blankets, toys, food and your volunteer to help out
  • Make certain that every time you spend your money, the products have not been tested on animals, and have not harmed people or the environment
  • Plant trees and plants in your backyard to create a "wild space" for wild animals and birds

"Animals are our friends and we can learn from them. They give us so much and ask for so little back in return," says O'Sullivan.

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.]

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.

The only organization of its kind, seven days a week, The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) works across the street, across Canada and around the world helping people, animals and the environment.

The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) 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 protect animals and the environment please make a donation here. Because when it comes to fighting cruelty and violence, we don’t give up. Ever.