In a 3-2 vote, Mohave County Board of Supervisors directed the county attorney’s office to draft an ordinance banning the use of wild and exotic animals for traveling commercial display or performances such as circuses.
The ordinance would not ban domestic animals during performances, or prohibit or limit activities such as rodeos, animal sanctuaries, animal shelters, veterinarian services, or similar services, or ban or limit the private ownership of animals.
Supervisor Steve Moss introduced the agenda item at Monday’s board meeting.
“This was brought to me by a group of citizens and before I met with them I was opposed to this,” Moss said. “I viewed it as potentially causing a problem for our rodeos and animal sanctuaries. As I met with them and later reviewed the materials they provided I came to the opinion there potentially is a problem.”
To illustrate the problem, Valentine resident Johnathan Craft played a three minute video of widespread cruelty to circus animals suffered across the globe.
“How can we consider ourselves civilized while we continue to allow the suffering and abuse of animals simply for entertainment,” the narrator asked. “This is a life of confinement, deprivation and violence that is hidden behind the illusion and sparkle of the show.”
The video was graphic and disturbed some in the audience.
“All of that suffering for a few minutes of entertainment is quite appalling,” Craft said. “There are now 27 countries that have put a ban on animals in circuses. I think this would be a great opportunity for Mohave County to enforce a ban to stop the horrific suffering of these poor animals and set an example.”
Supervisors Hildy Angius and Buster Johnson cast dissenting votes.
“I believe there are laws and ordinances already on the record to address animal cruelty in businesses such as this,” Angius said. “I believe it’s connected to a much larger animal right issue that is a geo-political movement that I do not agree with. I caution this board on interjecting itself on the issue of animal rights.
“I believe that being on the record about these kinds of thoughts on animal rights on issues like this will come back to haunt us and perhaps hurt our efforts going forward to protect the health and safety of our human constituents,” Angius added.
Johnson questioned if the county had the authority to pass such an ordinance.
“We only have the authority the state gives us,” Johnson said. “While I understand what the group is trying to accomplish it is very narrow in what we can do … I don’t want to drag this out if there is nothing that can be done at our level where it’s a state issue. I think until we know if we have the authority we shouldn’t be putting anything forward.”
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