December 6, 2002, VANCOUVER - While it is obvious to most people, The Humane Society of Canada (HSC) is once again reminding the public that animal companions are sentient beings who should not be given as presents at Christmas - or any other time. Every time HSC Executive Director Michael O’Sullivan hears of someone giving a pet as a present, his blood starts to boil.
"I know that every year people are asked, through the media, to refrain from surprising someone at Christmas with a dog, cat or other pet. And while most of us would never consider doing such a callous and thoughtless act, every year numerous people do. Many of these intelligent and feeling ‘gifts’ will suffer tremendously and may even die as a result of this stupid act," says an angry O’Sullivan.
Part of the problem is that many of the recipients of these living, breathing ‘presents’ don’t even want an animal companion or the responsibilities and costs that go with properly raising a pet. Even those who would like a pet may not warm up to an animal pushed on them at Christmas. According to HSC Western Regional Director, Al Hickey, who was the Chief Executive of the British Columbia SPCA for more than 17 years, these inconsiderate acts are often bad for everyone involved.
"Usually the pet pays the biggest price, sometimes with his/her life. But the person who receives the animal can also be upset by the experience. Often they will feel guilty if they don’t keep the animal or if they don’t warm up to their animal companion like they think they should. And they may resent the person who gave them the pet. Even the person whose thoughtless act caused all of the problems may feel bad as he/she may feel guilty about causing the animal to suffer and creating some friction or animosity between them self and the recipient of the ‘gift,’" states Hickey.
O’Sullivan suggests that people who want to surprise someone with an animal companion for Christmas should surprise them with the idea of getting a pet instead. "Instead of giving someone a dog or cat, present them with a book on pet care, an HSC animal first aid kit or similar item that will both surprise the recipient of the gift with the thought that they can personally select a pet, when they’re ready, and give them something for their new family member that they’ll need," says O’Sullivan.
According to Hickey, a card indicating that an animal selected from a shelter or pound by the animal’s future guardian(s) will be paid for also makes a nice gift. "Just make sure that the recipient of the gift wants a pet in their life, is ready, both financially and emotionally, for the commitment, which can last for 15 years or more, and that they personally select their new ‘best friend,’" advises Hickey.
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.]
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