VANCOUVER, May 5/2002 - The only things for sure in life are death, taxes -- and pets? That’s the 30-second message from The Humane Society of Canada, which is asking people who love animals to "Say I WILL for Animals." With the generous donation of time and energy of well known ad agency TAXI, and the voice talents of David Bolt, Kathy Greenwood, Billie Mae Richards and Paul Sutherland recording at Pirate Studios, the charity is launching its first ever public campaign asking people to remember animals when making out their Will, according to Al Hickey, Western Regional Director.
"We wanted to take a light hearted look at death and dying, and ask people to remember the fur faces in our family who have stolen our hearts. When you’re sitting down to write your Will, you want to ask yourself who always loves you. And the answer is, that bundle of fur or feathers right next to you (or on top of your papers if he’s a cat)," said Hickey, who has six grandchildren and who has worked for charities helping animals and children for decades.
"We write our Will when we are alive for people and charities who are living. So writing our Will is not about death at all, but rather about life in the future and being remembered for who we were and what we did," said Hickey who turned 70 this year.
"Our job is to help people and their animals by making sure that their wishes are carried out and that every penny of their hard earned money is spent carefully and wisely. And to be sure that the government gets as little as possible in the way of taxes," said HSC Executive Director, Michael O'Sullivan.
"That’s why we’ve come up with eight easy steps to help people make out their Will. People can either do themselves, have a professional advisor do it for them, or work with our professional advisors who will do the work for free because they care about animals and have agreed to donate their services," he said, telling donors: "The choice is yours. After all, it is your money".
"However, most important of all, if you have any animals, we have come up with a way to care for your beloved pets after you have passed away, through our Guardian Angels for Animals Program," said O’Sullivan, who has four dogs and two cats of his own.
The program ensures that a person’s pets are placed into a permanent loving home, that they are checked over by a veterinarian twice a year and receive whatever medical care they need. While he has heard that some organizations charge anywhere from $ 10,000 to $ 25,000 a year per pet for such a service, O’Sullivan wants people to know that The Humane Society of Canada is not one of them: "If people are kind enough to leave something in their Will to help animals it just doesn’t seem right to me to charge them to take care of their own animals," he said.
The animal charity also honours donors who remember the animals in their Will through their unique Book of Remembrance Program and plants a Tree of Life in their wildlife rainforest preserve called the Forest of Forever. The organization also works with donors to set up funds named after their pets. One of their donors honoured her beloved Siamese cat after she had passed away by setting up The Silver Paws Fund to help animals.
Over the past 30 years, O’Sullivan’s globetrotting adventures to help animals have taken him across Canada and to more than 85 countries. Along the way, he and his staff have also picked up a lot of expertise to help people living in Canada, or Canadians who have investments or who may live abroad with their charitable gift and estate planning.
"We want to let everyone know that we are their one stop shopping resource to help them plan ahead for themselves, their pets, animals and nature," said O’Sullivan.
Although, O’Sullivan is only 48, he has had a Will since he was 23 years old: "That’s because I work in so many dangerous situations here in Canada and around the world helping animals. And with a wife, two small children, and a houseful of dogs and cats who depend on me, my family doesn’t need any unpleasant surprises if anything happens to me. Everything is already taken care of," said O’Sullivan.
"I updated my own Will not very long ago. I took care of my family and my pets, and then I started leaving money to The Humane Society of Canada and other good causes. Within five minutes, I had given away more than I had in my entire lifetime. But the point of this story is not to tell you what a wonderful person I am, but to tell you how good I felt about doing it.
And the best part of all is that once I was finished, I hadn’t taken a single penny out of my current bank account. I didn’t feel a thing. It is the only donation which each and every one of us can ever make in the thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars," said O’Sullivan.
Gifts can include cash, publicly traded shares (like stocks and bonds), real estate, wildlife preserves, boats, cars, life insurance policies, retirement saving plans, jewellery, works of art, rare books, coins, stamps, furniture, and so forth. Rather than waiting until they pass on, some people also decide to help animals by making large gifts while they are still alive, and in this way, they can also make use of tax breaks that are available.
O’Sullivan says he is very concerned about a recent study showing that 7 out of 10 Canadians do not have a Will: "That means that the government decides what happens to your hard earned money," he says with a shudder. "And that should be enough to make anyone sit down today and start making out their Will.
He also urges people that already have a Will to review it regularly to reflect changes in their wishes and changes in tax laws. Also, at present, many provinces still do not recognize common laws status or same sex relationships for estate purposes.
"We’re asking Canadians of all ages, from all walks of life, to say: I WILL for animals," said O’Sullivan.
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.
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.
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