While my messages to you often concern the dogs and cats which the Richmond SPCA shelters each day, it is an important part of our mission that we are called to be advocates for all animals. A paper introduced in the Richmond City Council to address the treatment of elephants provides just such an opportunity, and I am writing to ask that you lend your voice to speak for these intelligent, majestic animals who are forced to perform through punishing treatment with implements of cruelty.
The paper patroned by council members Chris Hilbert, Charles Samuels and Parker Agelasto seeks to ban the use of bullhooks and similar tools designed to inflict pain as well as the brandishing or exhibiting of such implements in order to train or control the behavior of an elephant. Such actions would become a Class 2 misdemeanor effective January 1, 2017 with the passage of the ordinance.
Please join us in supporting this measure by contacting your representative on City Council to urge a vote in favor of the paper when it comes before council. I encourage you to visit this link to determine the member of council who represents you. Those who profit from the cruel treatment of animals have been very vocal since the paper was introduced last week, and we as animal advocates need to stand together to say loud and clear that there is nothing radical about opposing the use of bullhooks on elephants. These are intelligent, sensitive animals with deep family relationships. Every child and adult who loves animals recoils upon learning that elephants endure painful stabbing to force them to perform unnatural stunts.
The adoption of this ordinance will further distinguish Richmond as a leader in the humane treatment of animals, but your help is essential to ensuring that outcome.
Thank you for your love of animals and your prompt action on this crucial issue!
Updates, Oct. 28, 2014:
The Council agenda indicates that this issue is on schedule for the Dec. 8 meeting of Council. We expect that the paper will be heard by a committee in November, and we will provide further information as it becomes available.
Some have indicated that it would be helpful to have a sample message to send. However, it is important that constituents use their own words when calling or writing members of council and only only contact a council member if you are a resident of his or her voting district. Unique messages carry more weight than those received in duplicate. Messages should politely ask the council member to vote in favor of the ban on bullhooks and ensure more humane treatment of elephants visiting our city with traveling shows. You may also wish to state that pain and punishment of captive animals have no place in family entertainment.
Additional facts that could be incorporated:
- The use of bullhooks results in trauma, suffering and physical injury, often including lacerations, puncture wounds and abscesses to an elephant’s sensitive skin, which is rich in nerve endings and susceptible to abrasions.
- Elephant sanctuaries and most accredited zoos that house elephants no longer use these barbaric devices and instead rely exclusively on positive reinforcement, such as treats and praise.
- At least 40 US municipalities have passed full or partial restrictions on the use of wild animals in public displays and/or the use of bullhooks and more than 30 countries have passed national restrictions.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read her biography or that of our other bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires both your first and last name to be used as your screen name.
We also hope that you will take a moment to read Michael Paul Williams’ excellent column that appeared in Friday's Times-Dispatch. In this column, Mr. Williams discusses the miserable lives to which wild animals are subjected in circuses. We agree with his well written piece and believe that the proposed ordinance that is before City Council to ban bullhooks is an important step in the right direction of a more humane circus.