The Circus Continues in Westchester; Latimer and Animal Activists at Odds
Articles and Media Coverage From Animal Defenders of Westchester (ADOW)

We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

The Circus Continues in Westchester; Latimer and Animal Activists at Odds

FROM Dan Murphy,
May 10, 2019

In 2017, New York State passed legislation, signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that banned the use of elephants in circuses. That same year, New York City outlawed all wild animals in circus acts. Last year, New Jersey became the first state in the United States to ban wild and exotic animal acts.

Here in Westchester, against the wishes of animal rights advocates, “the show goes on” with a circus underway in Mt. Vernon that includes animal acts, and in February, the Hanneford Circus returned to the County Center in White Plains.

For most of us who have enjoyed the circus as youngsters and who may have brought our children to the circus in recent years, our views have progressed to where we do not want to be entertained by animal abuse and torture.

Furthermore, if elephants can be protected from circus abuse, what about the rest of the animals? So far, efforts by animal rights groups to get Westchester County government to ban the circus here has failed.

Rising newspapers received the following letter from Kiley Blackman, founder of Animal Defenders of Westchester:

“As yet another miserable circus arrives here, dragging animals in boxcars and chains, we reflect on this county’s deliberate, appallingly refusal to stand up against them, though circuses and other traveling animal acts have been proven to be negligent, contracting with known animal abusers, all with lengthy records of Animal Welfare Act violations, as the rest of the world is coming to understand. Since 2004, the Board of Legislators repeatedly made prom- ises that circuses would be banned – even saying they have ‘ordered the legal department to begin drafting the bill.’ But it was all lies and deceit, despite bans against circuses enacted all around us, including New York City, Connecticut, and the entire State of New Jersey. The BOL did nothing but happily welcomed these sad freak shows back yearly.

“When George Latimer was elected county executive, he immediately did an executive or- der banning gun shows on county property; we did not know about these rules, and requested he do one against circuses, as the BOL still did nothing but lie. He refused, instead dumping the issue back on the BOL. Then, a year after more worthless nonsense from the BOL, Latimer said he would do the order, and his aide requested we provide a list of animal-free circuses, which we did. Then, after weeks of excuses, his aide astonishingly denied that Latimer ever said he’d do the ban! However, the emails we produced proved otherwise.

“The fact that Latimer could have stopped this sad, pitiful cruelty with a stroke of his pen a year ago but instead chose to do nothing except throw insults and denial is heartbreaking. Worse, as a senator, Latimer wrote a bill against circuses that remains dormant; now that he is in a position where he can actually change things, he is silent – wonder why? After asking him on Facebook to keep his word about banning cir- cuses, he snapped into action – and blocked us. Looks like that ‘open and inclusive government’ Latimer boasts of is only is granted for those who praise him; and we’d love to praise you – but you’ve gotta give us a reason. Till then, Mr. Latimer, although every municipality in a 50-mile radius has banned them, this caravan of sorrow will be coming to Westchester with your blessing; the suffering of these animals is now your failure. You’re concerned about immigrants, but the animals are immigrants, too – legal, intelligent, sentient beings stolen from their own families and forced to come here in chains against their will. What about them?

“We had excellent working relationships with CEs Astorino and Spano before him – and many other politicians over the years; we’d hoped for the same with George Latimer, but our allegiance is to the animals. Always will be. Just because animals can’t vote doesn’t mean they aren’t entitled to kindness and respect. The animals suffer like people do, they love their babies like we love ours. You chose to fail them, George. Latimer and the BOL pathetically turned their backs to the suffering of these animals, instead of doing something right and com- passionate for those who truly have no voice and no choice. For this Latimer and the entire BOL should all hang their heads in abject shame.”

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WESTCHESTER4GEESE is an adjunct of ANIMAL DEFENDERS OF WESTCHESTER. We advocate against all forms of animal abuse and exploitation, including hunting, experimentation, fur, circuses and rodeos -