VANCOUVER, JULY 23/99 - "Nikita", a one-year-old Rottweiler dog survived being dragged behind her owner's truck for more than a kilometer. Today, her owner was criminally charged with cruelty to animals and if convicted could face up to six months in jail, a fine of $2,000 and could be ordered not to own or work with animals for up to two years.

However, that's not enough according to The Humane Society of Canada. 'Nikita' and others like her are the reason the organization has taken the important step of establishing ACT, an eight point plan to get tough on animal abusers. "Our Anti-Cruelty Taskforce (ACT) has one very simple goal. To end the abuse of animals -- the torture and the cruelty -- to animals right across Canada," according to Al Hickey, Western Regional Director for The Humane Society of Canada.


Through the kindness and generosity of Canadians this means his group is already working on cases just like Nikita's, helping sick and injured dogs, cats, wildlife, and other animals in Canada. These animals are now being cared for, free from cruelty and abuse.

"You and I are all that stand between animals and people who want to harm them. We are the animal's last line of defence. We are their last best hope to be free from cruelty," said Michael O'Sullivan, Executive Director of The Humane Society of Canada.

His group wants to relieve some of the suffering and violence that takes place each day in communities all across Canada. A case in point is the 'Happy Face Killer.' Keith Hunter Jesperson of British Columbia, who's now locked behind bars for the rest of his life in a dingy Oregon jail cell. The former truck driver pleaded guilty to beating to death eight young women and in his own words:

"...It's the same feeling, choking a human being or a cat. You've already felt the throat of them trying to grab air. You're actually squeezing the life out of these animals and there isn't much difference - they're gonna fight for their lives just as much as a human being will ... You come to where killing something is nothing ..."

But even more frightening is the fact that what Jesperson says is not just the view of one depraved psychopath. He has simply connected the dots in a pattern that has been emerging from studies for decades. There is a very real relationship between animal abuse and a host of other crimes. Child abuse. Wife beating. And murder.

  • In 1997, an Ontario survey of women entering shelters in Hamilton and Owen Sound found that 61% of those with pets reported that their partners had hurt or killed their animals.
  • A study in England by the Royal SPCA found that 83% of families with a history of animal abuse had also been identified by social service agencies at risk for child abuse or neglect.
  • America's FBI has long identified animal abuse as one of its three leading indicators of future criminal potential.

ACT is a special unit operating within the law with eight major program objectives to get tough on animal abusers:

  1. Rewards for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for harming animals. We've already offered rewards for "Fergus" and "Fisher", two dogs which were shot in British Columbia and for a pet donkey named "Jocko" that was shot in Ontario.
  2. Broad based education campaign to create and sustain public awareness that animals matter in their own right and because there is a connection between animal abuse and violent crime to humans. Work more closely with childcare workers, teachers and others to identify animal abusers at an early age in an effort to stop this problem before it starts.
  3. An ongoing public awareness campaign to reinforce responsible pet ownership. Caring for animals isn't just the right thing to do, it's a crime to abuse or neglect animals.
  1. Canada has some of the toughest laws in the world, but in many cases, they are not being properly enforced. Right now, no one who owns pets or uses farm animals, wildlife and lab animals is above the law. However, an investigation by The Humane Society of Canada has uncovered evidence that some groups are now hard at work trying to convince federal politicians to let them do whatever they want to animals. If they succeed, there will be even more widespread cruelty. We don't intend to let that happen. But we need everyone's help to make sure that all animal abusers are punished to the fullest extent of the law.
  2. Strengthen our special investigative support unit for animal protection groups to assist them with the latest high-tech crime fighting techniques, equipment, and training. The latest advances in forensic sciences and undercover investigations. In the past we have worked with police agencies, Crown Attorneys and we have an ongoing relationship with INTERPOL.
  1. Make more widely available our library of case law to help overworked and underpaid Crown Attorneys launch even more successful prosecutions against animal cruelty. And give them the necessary support to appeal bad decisions handed down by judges.
  2. Educate the key players in the criminal justice system and hold them accountable for their actions.
  3. A special fund to help pay for veterinary care of the animal victims who have been the targets of cruelty. Their animals battered and bruised at the hands of abusers, some owners simply cannot afford to pay to have their animals receive appropriate veterinary care. The Humane Society of Canada has already donated $500 to help pay for Nikita's veterinary care.

"Many people don't realize it -- but it is the courage and support of women, men and children from all walks of life that allow us to continue the daily fight against animal cruelty. Sometimes we get discouraged, sometimes we wonder if this is all really worth it. Then we hear stories like the one about Nikita and like other Canadians, we see the pain and suffering inflicted on animals and want do something about it," said O'Sullivan.

And he has a final warning for animal abusers: "Then we get angry, and become even stronger. Because when it comes to fighting animal abuse, we don't give up. Ever."

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.