The Ordinance Committee will conduct a public hearing to discuss creating a new Chapter in the Cambridge Municipal Ordinance entitled "Prohibiting the Use of Wild and Exotic Animals in Traveling Shows and Circuses".
Date and Time: Wednesday, June 4, 2014 at 5:31 PM.
Location: Sullivan Chamber
Vice Mayor Benzan, Co-Chair, Councillor Carlone, Co-Chair, Councillor Cheung, Councillor Kelley, Councillor Mazen, Councillor McGovern and Donna P. Lopez, City Clerk.
Laura Hagen, Deputy Director of Advocacy, MSPCA, Jacquie Gambarini, 8 Everett Street, Mass. Voters for Animals, Lisa Landsverk, 103 Irving Street, Teresa Cardosi, 7 Woodrow Wilson Court, Dara Demetrio, 15 Foch Street, Andrea Caslovitz, 848 Mass. Avenue and John Hawkinson, 84 Mass. Avenue
Councillor Carlone opened the hearing and stated the purpose. He announced that the hearing was being recorded by audio and visual devices. He stated that the format of the hearing would be that the presenters would be first, followed by City Staff, the City Councillors and then the hearing would be opened to public comment.
Jacqui Gambarini, 8 Everett Street, thanked all the City Councillors for holding the hearing. She thanked Councillor Cheung for sponsoring the ordinance. She stated that the Animal Welfare Act is federal legislation that oversees the treatment of animals and traveling shows; animals are not monitored. Other communities such as Quincy, Weymouth, Braintree, Charlestown, Revere, Somerville and Plymouth have banned circus animals. She is asking Cambridge to do the same.
Councillor Carlone asked if the proposal before us today is the same presented to other communities. Ms. Gambarini stated that she is not sure.
Councillor McGovern thanked petitioners. He supports this ordinance change. He has never taken his children to the circus because of this issue. He is concerned about what can be done legally. He stated that it is his understanding that when circus animals come through Cambridge they are transported by trains though the City. He wants to ensure that the ordinance can hold up legally. Memorial Drive is outside of Cambridge's jurisdiction. He wanted a legal opinion on this to ensure that it stands up to any opposition.
Vice Mayor Benzan asked what the route is generally taken by the circus while traveling through Cambridge. Ms. Gambarini stated that it is the Grand Junction Railroad. Vice Mayor Benzan stated that it would be prudent to determine the route that the animals are being transported to and from the City. He stated that he wanted an opinion from the City Solicitor. Ms. Gambarini stated that the animals are marched down Memorial Drive. Vice Mayor Benzan stated that he also has not taken his children to the circus. The ban is important ban to protect the animals. He stated his support of the ban.
Councillor Mazen stated his support for the petition. In the US circus now are geared to acrobatic acts and away from mistreatment of animals. Leaving it to circus masters caring for animals is not sufficient. Councillor Mazen made the following motion:
Ordered: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to provide a legal opinion on the proposed amendment to the Municipal Code entitled "Prohibiting the Use of Wild and Exotic Animals in Traveling Shows and Circuses"; said opinion address the legality of the proposal and provide feedback on any changes or alternatives necessary to the proposal.
Vice Mayor Benzan stated that he wanted clarity on what route these animals travel on. He made the following motion:
Ordered: He amended the motion to add: said report to include the travel route taken by the circus animals including the City streets that are used to transport the circus animals.
Councillor McGovern asked the petitioners if there was a need to move quickly on the proposed amendment. Ms. Gambarini responded that the circus is coming in October.
Councillor Carlone commented that if Somerville has approved a similar ordinance it may be because the Grand Junction Railroad runs through Somerville.
Councillor Kelley stated that he wanted information from the City Manager as to whether criminal fines can be issued. He requested that this be added to the motion made by Councillor Mazen. The amendment carried.
Councillor Cheung stated that he supported what the petitioners are trying to accomplish.
Councillor Carlone stated that the travel route appears to be a state route.
Vice Mayor Benzan commented about the criminal penalty. In Section V entitled "Penalty" of the proposal there is a fine of $5,000. He wanted information as to how this proposed ban resembles the ban in other communities. He requested copies of the Somerville and Plymouth proposals for the next meeting.
Councillor Carlone opened the hearing to public comment at 5:48 PM.
Laura Hagen distributed written testimony (ATTACHMENT A)*. She represents the MSPCA. She spoke about the suffering that the wild animals endure. MSPCA has opposed the use of wild exotic animals in circuses. The protection that these animals need is not provided. These issues are being considered city by city, town by town. Ms. Hagen stated that there are public safety concerns with these animals. She thanked the City Council for taking a stand on this issue. Cambridge would be the 8th City to take this stand. Councillor Carlone asked if other towns imposed a fine and how is city-owned land treated.
Ms. Hagen stated that Somerville ban only addresses transportation. She does not know if it is a criminal or non-criminal penalty. In Plymouth no permit can be issued.
Councillor McGovern asked if there is definition of exotic animal. Ms. Hagen stated that it is defined in the proposal. Domesticated animals are not included. Councillor McGovern asked if there has been opposition in other communities or from circus owners. Ms. Hagen stated that Plymouth passed a ban to prevent the Shriners' Circus. Cities and towns are acknowledging the issue of travelling shows and the treatment of animals.
Vice Mayor Benzan stated that a birthday party was held and a contracted company was contracted and the company brought exotic animals to his house. Would this be banned? Travelling show is ambiguous. Ms. Hagen stated that other communities have exempted educational organizations that educate the public about animals. Still other communities have added MSPCA into their regulations. Vice Mayor Benzan felt that we should look at the educational provision in Section VI and add this to the report from the City Solicitor.
Lisa Landsverk stated her support for the ordinance. Circuses with wild animals are cruel because the animals are in cages. She wants Cambridge to speak up for animals.
Teresa Cardosi supported the proposal. She is glad other communities have banned this.
Dana DeMetrio read a story about an elephant named Kenny. Elephants develop like humans. Under regulations sick elephants are required to get care. This did not happen in the story about Kenny. The veterinarian was overruled by the circus owner and Kenny was required to perform. The elephant subsequently died after the performance. The treatment that Kenny received is cruel.
Andrea Caslovitz, 848 Mass. Avenue, stated that she rescued two dogs from a puppy mill. They lived in cages all their lives. We cannot change the world, but can change the world we are in.
John Hawkinson, 84 Mass. Avenue stated that the elephants exit the Grand Junction and travel down Mass. Ave. This is a city street. The concern is the travel of exotic animals on the railroad. There should be a correction to ban exotic animals on city streets. What is the intent? If it bans elephants - the route will be changed. It may be worse for the animals. He stated that the City Council should think about the ramifications and unintended consequences. The police are involved in the transportation. Criminal and non criminal offenses are addressed in the ordinances.
Vice Mayor Benzan spoke about unintended consequences of Cambridge banning exotic animals. If Cambridge implements this ban it is sending a message that this is not acceptable. Cambridge can urge Boston to take a similar action.
Councillor Carlone summarized the requests made by the City Council on this matter. The motion offered by Councillor Mazen as amended by Councillor Kelley and Councillor McGovern reads as follows:
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to instruct the City Solicitor to provide a legal opinion to the City Council on the proposed amendment to the Municipal Code entitled "Prohibiting the Use of Wild and Exotic Animals in Traveling Shows and Circuses" as follows:
the legality of the proposal and provide feedback on any changes or alternatives necessary to the proposal.
whether criminal fines can be issued as contained in Section V entitled "Penalty".
The motion carried on a voice vote.
Vice Mayor Benzan made the following motion:
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to report back to the City Council on the travel route taken by the circus animals including the City streets that are used to transport the circus animals, the education provision in Section VI of the proposed ordinance entitled "Prohibiting the Use of Wild and Exotic Animals in Traveling Shows and Circuses"; and be it further
ORDERED: That the City Manager be and hereby is requested to provide copies of the proposals to ban exotic animals from Somerville and Plymouth to members of the Ordinance Committee.
The motion carried on a voice vote.
Councillor Carlone stated that this will be referred back to the Ordinance Committee when this information is received. The matter remained in Committee.
The following e-mails were received and made part of the report:
A communication from Sarah Stewart, 207 Appleton Street, in support of the proposal to prohibit the use of wild and exotic animals in traveling shows and circuses in Cambridge (ATTACHMENT B).
A communication from John Tyson, 310 1/2 Pearl Street, transmitting his fervent support of the proposed ordinance (ATTACHMENT C).
On motion of Councillor Carlone the hearing adjourned at 6:14 PM.
For the Committee,
Vice Mayor Dennis Benzan, Co-Chair
Councillor Dennis Carlone, Co-Chair
*Subsequent to the hearing Ms. Hagen forwarded additional documents (ATTACHMENT D).