To the Editor:
This letter is in regard to the story which appeared in the Milford Mirror on Oct. 11: Resident wants to ban circuses with animal acts.
Kudos to Lorrie Davies for speaking out against the cruel treatment of animals in the circus. Contrary to the claims made by a circus spokesperson, the circus has repeatedly been involved with unlawful cruelty to animals and a history of animal escapes and inattentive handling, which poses a serious risk to human safety.
Recently, a circus agreed to pay a penalty of $15,000 to settle charges with federal authorities for more than ten charges, including failing to provide adequate veterinary care to elephants traveling with the circus and failure to hire personnel capable of caring for them.
Last year, video was taken showing a handler who repeatedly struck an elephant using a bullhook, a rod with a solid, steel-pointed hook on the end, including forcefully hitting the animal twice in the face.
Also last year, the USDA cited an elephant exhibitor with Cole Brothers for multiple violations of the AWA, including the use of “excessive force while tugging at” an elephant by digging a bullhook into her flesh.
In 2011, the owner of Cole Brothers Circus, John Pugh, pleaded guilty to violating the Endangered Species Act, and was fined $150,000 and placed on four years probation for illegally selling two endangered Asian elephants. The court ordered Pugh, individually, to serve three years probation, 300 hours of community service, an additional $4,000 fine and a mandatory $1,200 payment to an organization working toward conservation and rehabilitation of Asian elephants.
Milford officials should take a decisive stand against animal cruelty by banning exotic animal shows altogether.