Letter | Danette Zachary: Council’s cowardice in the face of animal abuse allows cruelty

Thank you to City Councilmember Vickie Kress, the only one who had enough compassion and common sense to vote for the circus ban ordinance and speak truthfully about the inherent cruelty of using animals in circuses, both in the way they are kept and transported for their entire lives.

To keep them in small cages and transport them all over the place is cruelty in and of itself. One citizen who spoke at the meeting said the abuse of animals in circuses was an “aberration.” Other council members said it shouldn’t be presupposed that the animals are inhumanely treated and that sometimes accusations of abuse may be unfounded. All ignored the fact of the animals’ suffering for the majority of their existence by being forced to live in small cages or being chained up so they can barely more around.

I wonder how any of these supposedly caring people would like to live or be treated that way? Some may think that is a ridiculous or unreasonable statement, humans being so above it all, but though the animals are different species, when it comes to fear, pain and suffering, they are our equals.

This does not include the fear, intimidation and even starvation techniques inflicted on the animals from an early age in order to control and dominate them. These are wild animals who are not meant to, and cannot be, trained to perform tricks like domestic dogs through positive reinforcement.

Some citizens and council members talked about doing background checks on circuses for histories of abuse and how there are already anti-cruelty laws. If that were enough, animals would not be in circuses which are innately cruel, especially for wild and exotic animals, in the first place.

Once upon a time, many of us mistakenly believed animals in circuses lived good or acceptable lives. Now that more information, evidence and proof has come to light, we know that is not the reality. There are many incidents of animals being hit or beaten, oftentimes behind the scenes, in between “shows,” captured on undercover video or through whistleblowers who witnessed the abuse. All of this and for what? A couple hours of “entertainment?”

Some of the citizens who spoke at the meeting are grandparents who want to take their grandchildren to the circus. Wonder how many of those children would want to go if they knew the truth about how the animals are treated? Probably none of them.

It is a much better idea to teach them respect and kindness toward animals and visit a reputable sanctuary, such as Keepers of the Wild, where the animals can lead as close to natural lives as possible, free from harm. But people only selfishly think of their own enjoyment, not the actual lives of the animals involved.

Supposed animal lovers at the meeting repeatedly expressed support for animal sanctuaries. Do they not see the connection between the need for such sanctuaries, which include animals rescued from circuses? You cannot call yourself an animal lover or say you care about animals and still support circuses that abuse animals or oppose circus bans that would stop that abuse. It is an obvious and total contradiction.

Other examples of selfishness and absurdity included individuals who could only see how the ordinance might affect their own interests, even though it was specifically directed only at wild and exotic animals in circuses. There was one comparison to this being a threat to dog and rabbit shows. Another said this could lead to calls to help sheep and goats. Someone else said how a similar ordinance passed in another town led to the slippery slope of city council having to approve the Rose Bowl parade. What any of this has to do with the matter at hand is anyone’s guess.

There were several derogatory comments made about other places who have humanely chosen to stop cruelty from taking place in their towns and cities, as if this was a bad thing. At least they have the decency and guts to take a stand against cruelty and not just pass useless resolutions that do nothing to actually help animals.

There were nonsensical comments about this being Kingman, Arizona, Mohave County and being in the West, like that’s some badge of honor. Dishonor is more like it.

Someone mentioned how this would at least raise awareness, which may be so, but what does that do for animals in the meantime?

It was also suggested to use the power of the purse and not patronize circuses, which is a great idea, except for those who will continue to profit off of using and abusing animals, those who refuse to see the truth of the animals’ suffering, or don’t know or don’t care. That means the animals are still condemned to lives of suffering until caring and responsible people decide to put an end to it.

This was a sadly missed golden opportunity to lend our animal friends a hand and stop this totally unnecessary suffering and for Kingman to show that they really care about animals, not just give lip service by passing a spineless resolution saying they oppose cruelty.

Again, thank you to Councilwoman Kress for being the only one to show some courage and character instead of cowardice and vote to take action against cruelty. You and Mr. Kraft were the only ones who showed that actions speak louder than words, especially when it comes to the lives of thinking, feeling beings who deserve better.

The animals would surely thank you both if they could.