Animal-Rights Activists and Commissioners Win One for the Circus Elephants in Margate

There was a bit of dissent from some Margate residents, but the city's commissioners followed through on a promise to animal-rights activists to ban devices used to mistreat circus animals.

The intent of the activists was to prevent the Cole Bros. Circus from coming to town, but they seem pretty pleased the city is banning instruments like bull hooks and electric prods that harm the animals.

The activists' complaints were pretty legitimate, although the thought that the ordinance would keep the circus from coming to town wasn't sitting well with everyone.

The proposed ordinance was openly opposed by only one member of the public, who referenced some articles written by a small online publication in Margate that's essentially just been taking a crap on the animal-lovers (see "Circus Protestors Terrorize Margate Families").

On the other hand, Commissioner Le Peerman noted that no one actually came out against the ordinance as it was written.

"I put out there -- in the papers, in the blogs, and everywhere else -- if someone can give me a good reason that anyone in the City of Margate needs to use these bull hooks, these electric prods, I would be happy to listen to them," she said. "I have not had one single phone call from anyone saying we have a need for it in the city. This has nothing to do with banning the circus -- it has to do with banning certain utensils that, obviously, there's no need for in the city, because nobody's bothered to call and stick up for those particular... items that we have on this list."

Aside from the typical definition of animal abuse, the ordinance goes on to ban "electric prods or shocking devices; shocking spurs or rowels; flank or bucking straps or similar devices; wire tie-downs; chains used as tie-downs; whips or bull-whips (excluding riding crops); ankuses or bull-hooks, or similar devices."

The commissioners approved the ordinance unanimously, although Commissioner Joseph Varsallone raised concerns that one of those instruments might be necessary in an emergency animal-escape scenario.

The Cole Bros. Circus just recently rolled through Margate, so we may have to wait awhile to see what kind of effect the ordinance has.

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Matthew Hendley
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