Humane Society of Canada estimates someone suffers a dog bite in Canada every 60 seconds, yet no national prevention program in place

(TORONTO, Ontario - May 25, 2003) - The Humane Society of Canada today launched a public service campaign as part of National Dog Bite Prevention Week (May 22-29) to provide tips to parents and dog owners in a campaign to reduce dog bite incidents. Media reports from across Canada frequently report dog attacks, yet governments typically react with legislation and fines, not education and prevention.

"If we can streetproof our kids against strangers, why not strange dogs?" says Michael O’Sullivan, CEO, Humane Society of Canada. "We can have legislation, but fines arrive after the damage is done - we need a more balanced program of education for dog owners and parents backed-up by smart legislation and law enforcement."

With six million dogs in Canada - one for every five humans - dogs are a part of most people’s daily lives, from the cities to the most remote parts of the country. But O’Sullivan says unlike the US, where Atlanta’s Center for Disease Control tracks dog bites, Canada has no tracking mechanism, so no concerted government action is taken. "Without stats, little national analysis of reasons for an attack is conducted, which means no research is undertaken on how to prevent future attacks on children and other animals."

Streetproofing Tips for Parents

A series of three ads created by TAXI, an award-winning advertising agency in Toronto, will run in transit shelters, magazines and newspapers across Canada. The ads feature graphic images of children with dog bite scars as well as a full-sized image of a dog with a small caption near its mouth that reads "If you’re close enough to read this, you’ve made the same mistake five-year-old Tina Philips made before she was severely mauled." The ads ask people to write or call the federal government with their concerns and offers more information and safety tips on the Society’s Dog Bite Awareness Page. Some tips:

  • Encourage children to be aware of all dogs in the neighbourhood
  • Teach them not to pet strange dogs, even if the owner says "it’s okay"
  • When petting any dog, offer a closed hand first to let the animal smell it first
  • Don’t try to feed or taunt dogs with food
  • If confronted by an angry dog, don’t panic; try to put a bicycle or jacket between you and the dog. Throw food, a stick or ball behind the dog to distract him/her.

"While our dogs are a part of our family, it’s important to teach children to respect dogs and understand they’re not people," says O’Sullivan. "By educating kids, they can enjoy the wonderful aspects of these faithful and trustworthy animals, while avoiding problems."

Tips for Dog Owners

O’Sullivan says that responsible dog owners play a huge role in preventing dog bite incidents by having their dogs spayed or neutered, choosing the right kind of dog for your living situation, and investing the time and energy to properly train dogs from the time they’re puppies. Some tips:

  • Puppies develop personalities between 8-12 weeks, they need and want attention
  • Do not send your dog away to be trained without you - training and obedience will help you control you dog in most situations
  • Train your dog using rewards of food or affection, punishment doesn’t work
  • Make sure your dog is socialized and familiar with people, animals and the sights and sounds of the neighbourhood

Attention TV and Print Public Service Directors: You can download a high-res version of the ads from the Humane Society web site at or call Diane Madeiros at 416-640-5525 x244.

About the PSA Ads

The ads were created by TAXI, and feature shots by renowned photographer, Russell Monk under the creative direction of Taxi’s Zak Mroueh and Lance Martin.
Production was courtesy of Connie Gorsline, with printing by Electric Picture Company.

For more information on how to prevent dog bites, please visit or phone the toll-free number at 1-800-641-KIND.

CONTACT: Al Hickey or Michael O'Sullivan by toll free 1-800-641-KIND or Michael on his cell phone (416) 876-9685 or 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 the Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Vancouver. He has 6 grandchildren.

A father with two children, and a houseful of dogs and cats, O'Sullivan has worked across Canada and in over 100 countries during the last 40 years helping people, animals and nature.]

The Humane Society of Canada works to protect dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals, horses, birds, livestock, lab animals, wildlife and the environment. They carry out hands on programs to help animals and nature, mount rescue operations, expose cruelty through hard hitting undercover investigations, fund studies to help animals and the environment, work to pass laws to protect animals, support animal shelters and wildlife rehabilitation centres and spread the word about how to help animals and nature through humane education.

A registered charity, The Humane Society of Canada 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 campaign to protect animals and the earth, please make a donation at Because when it comes to fighting cruelty, we don’t give up. Ever.