Sudbury

Sault Ste. Marie city council votes to extend circus animal ban to horses and dogs

Sault Ste. Marie is looking to close its doors to any circus or travelling show that stars animals. City council voted last night to extend its ban on circus animals to also include domestic creatures like horses and dogs.

Shows featuring wild animals have been banned in the Sault since 2012

Performers from the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus stage their final farewell presentation on May 21, 2017 at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, the circus that has entertained crowds for 146 years with its "Greatest Show on Earth". (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

Sault Ste. Marie is looking to close its doors to any circus or travelling show that stars animals.

City council voted Monday night to ask its legal department to draft a bylaw that extends its ban on circus animals to also include domestic creatures like horses and dogs.

The Sault banned travelling shows with wild animals such as elephants, lions and bears in 2012.

"I believe that it's neither acceptable or appropriate to have animals performing in circuses in the 21st century," said city councillor Judy Hupponen, who pushed for the changes to the bylaw.
Sault Ste. Marie city councillor Judy Hupponen. (City of Sault Ste. Marie )

Some in Sault Ste. Marie were concerned that the ban would cover kennel club dog shows and horse performances like the RCMP musical ride, but Hupponen hopes the bylaw is worded to target circuses and travelling shows.

"I would encourage people to see and go to those events rather than the circus where they use animals as entertainment," she said.

But Sault city councillor Frank Fata worried about the ban making too many assumptions.

"It seems there is a blanket statement that all animals are being mistreated," he said.

"It seems that we're automatically assuming that animals that travel in a circus-like environment are mistreated."

Sault Ste. Marie is the only city in the northeast with a ban on circus animals and it is one of the only cities in Canada to look at extending that ban to all circus animals. (Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

'They're not pets, they're commodities'

Sault Ste. Marie is the only city in the northeast with a ban on circus animals and it is one of the only cities in Canada to look at extending that ban to all circus animals.

Rob Laidlaw, the executive director of lobby group Zoocheck Canada, says while many of the traditional circuses are folding up their tents, he says there's a rise in other types of travelling animal shows.

"You see in some municipalities no sort of urgency any more to deal with this, because the industry is dying, but there may be remaining some of these smaller circuses that use other types of animals including horses and dogs," he said.

"They're not pets, they're commodities that are used and  make these businesses money and that's really what it's all about. Where for pet shows and dog shows and all that there really is a different kind of relationship."

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