Sault Ste. Marie City Council has agreed to consider banning travelling circuses featuring dogs or horses.
Councillors made the decision Monday night after Ward 3 councillor Judy Hupponen agreed to amend her resolution, providing assurances it wasn't meant to exclude the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Musical Ride, kennel club or horse events.
As SooToday reported last week, Hupponen and fellow Ward 3 yokebuddy Matthew Shoemaker's initial motion proposed expanding the city's existing exotic animals bylaw to include horses and dogs in the list of animals prohibited in "wild or exotic animal exhibitions and performances."
"A travelling circus, in my definition, is a company of acrobats, trained animals, clowns that give performances, typically in a large tent or arena in a series of different places," she explained.
"The RCMP, I don't believe they have any clowns in their entertainment. The dog kennel club, they don't either."
"Horses and ponies are gregarious animals and extremely social," Hupponen said.
The councillor said she attended a recent circus in the Sault to inspect the conditions in which the animals were kept.
"When I got there, I saw the three horses. They were tethered between two transports on the concrete. They had no food and no water and they were dirty."
"Contrary to claims by the circuses, there seems little evidence that animals enjoy the time in the ring. Circus animals do not willingly stand on their heads or jump through rings of fire."
"They don't perform these tricks because they want to do do any of these meaningless acts in their own natural environment. The only reason circus animals perform is because they are afraid of what will happen to them if they don't."
Hupponen agreed to allow the city's legal staff to prepare a bylaw to address her concerns without totally prohibiting animal shows involving dogs and horses.
Ward 5 councillor Frank Fata expressed concern that people were agreeing too readily that all circuses mistreat animals.
"Certain groups seem to get their agenda out there, it's all one-sided," Fata said.
City Council nonetheless agreed to ask the city's legal staff to prepare a suitable bylaw to be presented to councillors for approval next month.