Animal Defenders of Westchester

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

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


Ruling protects people as well as animals


Journal News, The (Westchester County, NY)
The Journal News
June 10, 2002


Ruling protects people as well as animals

Kiley Blackman

I was surprised to see The Journal News come out against the Traveling Animal Act Ordinance that was recently enacted in the Town of Greenburgh. The Journal News has previously shown itself to be fair to both sides of many issues, and also to be willing to give a compassionate voice to a variety of issues of respect and decency for all beings that share this Earth.

These ordinances have been enacted in the United States and worldwide for several years now Greenburgh has done nothing unusual by signing on. Your argument, "Accidents can happen . . . driving a car or walking down the street" is flawed on its face: Laws have indeed been enacted concerning both, such as the seat-belt law and the law against jaywalking (and certainly both have caused debate over government intrusion).

Also, unlike driving or walking, this ordinance involves bringing a known danger to ! town. This is no different from the efforts in Mount Vernon to get the pipeline rerouted in case of problems, or enacting safety laws in case of terrorist activity at Indian Point.

Towns have a right to protect their safety and reduce liability. We live in a litigious society. On my behalf, attorney Joel R. Perry served the Town of Greenburgh with a notice of dangerous condition, which stated in part: "Having licensed a traveling show of wild animals including, but not limited to tigers, bears and elephants, which pose serious dangers, such as mauling, goring, impaling and trampling, to the public and performers, leading to property damage, serious injuries and/or death by permitting said dangerous conditions to exist within its confines, this municipality is exposing itself to lawsuits that would adversely affect property taxes of both store owner and private citizen."

In light of this, your position that circus and rodeo acts be scrutinized case-by-case becomes foolhardy at best. Last year, we raced to Webb Field to attend to a sick , frightened Clyde Beatty elephant there but for mere luck was an elephant rampage, as had just happened in Poughkeepsie. If the lawsuits start to fly, is it really worth it for an hour of supposed fun?

Furthermore, your statement that the Outdoor Amusement Business Association is a viable overseer of animal abuse cases is absurd, with too many examples against it to cite here. The bottom line is, when profit is involved, the animals lose. Always. This is true of any beings, human or non-human animals, whose basic rights are compromised in society.

Thank you, Supervisor Paul Feiner and Town Board, for taking a step toward safety, respect and decency for all. As Town Board member Eddie Mae Barnes poignantly stated as she cast her pro-ordinance vote: "It's time for a change."

The writer, a Yonkers resident, is Northeast representative of SHARK (Showing Animals Respect & Kindness)/Westchester.

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