Eric Rayvid : 917-861-8290 or

Ernie Sims Kicks Off Series of Talks Encouraging Responsible Dog Ownership This Saturday

NFL linebacker Ernie Sims will team up with the Humane Society of Tampa Bay and the new Hillsborough County Animal Services/Best Friends Animal Society "Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project" for a free pet vaccination clinic, Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the International Independent Showmen's Association, 6915 Riverview Dr., Riverview.

In addition to free combo and rabies vaccines for dogs and cats, pet parents can pick up free spay/neuter vouchers to give their animals a longer, healthier life and to help reduce the number of pets euthanized in local shelters. There will also be educational information, fun contests and a pit bull terrier kissing booth, as well as activities and training demos.

Cats must be in a carrier and dogs must be on leash. More information is available at 813-367-2078, or at

Sims will speak to his fellow fans of furry friends at the event. He plans to tackle the important topic of responsible dog ownership--encouraging people to save lives by adopting from shelters, promoting the importance of spaying and neutering, and promoting kind, compassionate interaction with dogs. Sims will feature adoptable HCAS dogs in training demos, as well as offer a variety of motivational and fun competitive activities, such as weight pulling, agility and obedience that owners can do with pit bull type dogs. Shelter "pit bull ambassadors" Coty, Dozer, Polly Pocket, Jasmine, Honor, Diamond and Preston will participate in the demos with Sims and other trainers and show off their skills.

Sims ranks among the biggest animal lovers in the NFL, and he's known for being passionate about pit bull terrier-type dogs. He is the proud parent of three pit bull terriers rescued from shelters, and he participates in diving, agility and other healthy competitions with his dogs. He is most interested in educating youth on being responsible guardians and promoting positive interactions with dogs.

His next humane education presentation and dog demo will be in mid-March in Progress Village in Tampa.

Sims' Big HITS Foundation provides support to community-based organizations that offer services to disadvantaged youth and young adults and assist organizations that support animal humanity. "HITS" stands for "Helping Instill Tools for Success."

The foundation supports efforts to strengthen families, particularly those children and families with the greatest economic need and the least opportunity. His foundation offers sports camps, recreation and educational programs and activities, and encourages humane treatment of animals by supporting organizations provide services to reduce the cycles of violence and abuse to animals.

Hillsborough County Animal Services (HCAS) is working in conjunction with Best Friends Animal Society on the Shelter Partners for Pit Bulls Project, with funding support from PetSmart Charities®. The project is designed to encourage responsible pet guardianship and reduce euthanasia of pit bull terriers and similar-type dogs, as well as strive to improve the public perception of this type of dog.

Best Friends Animal Society works to help pit bull-type dogs through its national pit bull terrier initiative which helps dogs who are battling everything from a sensationalized reputation to legislation designed to bring about their extinction. The campaign's goal is to end discrimination against all dogs-because they are individuals and should be treated as such.

Best Friends works with humane groups all across the country to bring about a time when there are No More Homeless Pets®.

About Best Friends Animal Society®

Best Friends Animal Society is a nonprofit organization building no-kill programs and partnerships that will bring about a day when there are No More Homeless Pets®. The society's leading initiatives in animal care and community programs are coordinated from its Kanab, Utah, headquarters, the country's largest no-kill sanctuary. This work is made possible by the personal and financial support of a grassroots network of supporters and community partners across the nation.

To become a fan of Best Friends Animal Society on Facebook: //

Follow Best Friends on Twitter: //