Passed. Needs to be reversed. This is legislation pushed by an extremist agenda which does not serve animals or the people who serve them.
Don’t get angry – get going. Contact the mayor, contact your council people, and start contacting ALL your legislators on a regular basis. Connect with other experts and professionals, and stand together to end this extremism. I am stunned that elected officials are pushing the agenda of the animal rights extremist minority, at the expense of their hard working constituants. But they are.
Pittsburgh Zoo employees – my heart goes out to you. This legislation impairs your ability to do your jobs and safeguard your animals and public, and your excellence has been ignored by your city. This legislation panders to extremists.
Good luck. The survival of animals in our society is at stake.
In these two recordings (about 22 mins), I go over the legislation, discussing the implications.
Pittsburgh City Code 637
Pittsburgh City Code 637 – text below
An Ordinance amending the Pittsburgh City Code at Title 6: Conduct, Article III: Dogs, Cats and other Animals, by adding a new Chapter 637 – Infliction of Pain on Wild or Exotic Animals, making it unlawful to use devices or instruments to inflict pain for the purpose of training or controlling the behavior of any wild or exotic animal.
WHEREAS, a “bullhook,” also known as an ankus, ankusha, elephant goad, elephant hook, or guide, resembles a fireplace poker, has a sharp steel hook and a spiked tip, it is used to prod, hook, strike, and hit elephants and other wild and exotic animals on their sensitive areas of skin in order to inflict pain during training, performing, and handling; and
WHEREAS, wild and exotic animals are often struck with bullhooks, electric prods, shocking devices, hacksaws, baseball bats, axe handles, pitchforks and other devices to induce substantial pain in order to coerce the animal to avoid the source of pain; and
WHEREAS, alternative methods for the handling of wild and exotic animals based on positive reinforcement training are available, effective, and widely used; and
WHEREAS, the states of California and Rhode Island, and the cities of Los Angeles, California; Oakland, California; Hallandale Beach, Florida; Pompano Beach, Florida; Richmond, Virginia; Margate, Florida; Miami Beach, Florida; and Fulton County, Georgia, Union City, Georgia; and Clatsop County, Oregon have prohibited the use of bullhooks within their jurisdictions; and
WHEREAS, the City of Pittsburgh currently prohibits various forms of cruelty to animals, including the use of painful techniques and devices on animals performing at rodeos within the City; and
WHEREAS, inflicting pain for the purpose of training and controlling wild and exotic animals poses an additional risk to public safety because such animals have wild instincts and needs and have demonstrated unpredictability; and
WHEREAS, the Council of the City of Pittsburgh deems it advisable for the welfare of the city and the prevention of animal cruelty to prohibit the use of devices and instruments to inflict pain on exotic and wild animals within the City.
Now, Therefore, the Council of the City of Pittsburgh enacts as follows:
Section 1: Chapter 637 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Pittsburgh is enacted and shall provide as follows:
CHAPTER 637 – INFLICTION OF PAIN ON WILD OR EXOTIC ANIMALS
§ 637.01 DEFINITIONS
COMPANION ANIMAL – any type of animal that is commonly kept by persons as a pet or for companionship and includes but is not limited to domesticated dogs, domesticated cats, ferrets, gerbils, guinea pigs, hamsters, horses, mice, rabbits, and rats.
DOMESTIC ANIMAL – any animal that is Livestock, a Companion Animal, or both.
LIVESTOCK – poultry, cattle, swine, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, and mules.
PERSON – any individual, establishment, firm, association, organization, partnership, trust, corporation, or company.
WILD OR EXOTIC ANIMAL – “Wild or Exotic Animal” includes but is not limited to the following orders or families, or similar orders or families, whether bred in the wild or in captivity, and any hybrid thereof, including with Domestic Animals. The examples identified in parentheses are not intended to be an exhaustive list and do not limit the generality of each group of animals, unless otherwise specified:
(a) Non-human primates (chimpanzees, monkeys, lemurs)
(b) Felidae (except domesticated cats)
(d) Ursidae (bears)
(e) Proboscidea (elephants)
§ 637.02 WILD OR EXOTIC ANIMAL MISTREATMENT
It shall be unlawful for any person to use a bullhook, electric prod, shocking device, hacksaw, ankus, ankusha, elephant goad, elephant hook, baseball bat, axe handle, pitchfork, whip, stick, muzzle or any other device or instrument which is capable of inflicting pain, intimidating, threatening pain or mimicking any such device or instrument, for the purpose of training or controlling the behavior of a Wild or Exotic Animal in the City of Pittsburgh. The use of a “look-alike” device for the purpose of training or controlling the behavior of a Wild or Exotic Animal is specifically prohibited. A ’look-alike’ device” shall include a device which may or may not be capable of actually inflicting pain on a Wild or Exotic Animal, but is capable of mimicking or resembling a device which is capable of inflicting pain on a Wild or Exotic Animal.
It shall be unlawful for any person to authorize or allow an employee, agent or contractor to use a bullhook, electric prod, shocking device, hacksaw, ankus, ankusha, elephant goad, elephant hook, baseball bat, axe handle, pitchfork, whip, stick, muzzle or any other device or instrument which is capable of inflicting pain, intimidating, threatening pain or mimicking any such device or instrument, for the purpose of training or controlling the behavior of a Wild or Exotic Animal in the City of Pittsburgh. The use of a “look-alike” device for the purpose of training or controlling the behavior of a Wild or Exotic Animal is specifically prohibited. A ’look-alike’ device” shall include a device which may or may not be capable of actually inflicting pain on a Wild or Exotic Animal, but is capable of mimicking or resembling a device which is capable of inflicting pain on a Wild or Exotic Animal.
For purposes of this section, the term “use” shall include brandishing, exhibiting or displaying in the presence of a Wild or Exotic Animal.
§ 637.03 EXEMPTION
A person providing or assisting in the transportation of a Wild or Exotic Animal to a nonprofit United States Department of Agriculture licensed sanctuary for the purpose of providing lifetime care is exempt from the provisions of this Chapter 637.
§ 637.04 VIOLATION AND PENALTY
Every separate act committed in violation of this Chapter shall constitute a separate and distinct offense and shall be punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not to exceed 30 days.
Each day that a violation of this Chapter continues shall constitute a separate and distinct offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $1,000 and/or a term of imprisonment not to exceed 30 days.
Any person convicted of a violation of this Chapter shall, from the date of conviction forward, be ineligible for an Amusement License under Chapter 771 of the Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances, a Carnival or Street Fair License under Chapter 775 of the Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances or a Special Event Permit under Chapter 470 of the Pittsburgh Code of Ordinances.
All ordinances and code sections and parts of ordinances and code sections in conflict herewith are repealed to the extent of any such conflict.
This Ordinance shall be effective upon the Mayor’s signature or, if the Mayor does not sign the Ordinance, it shall be effective eleven (11) days after its enactment by Council.
If any portion of this Chapter is held invalid or unconstitutional by any court of competent jurisdiction, it shall not affect the validity of the remaining portions of this Chapter.
Phones for the mayor: Ofc: 412.255.2626 Fax: 412.255.8602
Email for mayor: William.Peduto@pittsburghpa.gov
Please help stop the City of Pittsburgh from legislating exotic animal care and best practices. Here is what I wrote in an open letter.
Bruce A. Kraus, President of Pittsburgh City Counsel, as a professional exotic animal manager, I ask you to please reconsider the legislation you introduced to involve the city in controlling tool use, and the care and management of exotic animals. These issues are well overseen by experts in both the zoo and the federal government. However, animal rights activists keep urging, and pressuring our legislators to change what we do and force others to take up the extremist agenda.
These forces often stipulate that they just want to see animals out of association with people – even if the animals die, or the entire species becomes extinct.
Most animal professionals find this abhorrent. We have an agenda also. We fall in love with the animals we care for, and we share that love with both the animals, and the people we help them to connect with. We strive for a world where people and animals live together in harmony. It is not acceptable for the animals to die. AND, we similarly have a strong allegiance to our citizens who also learn to love, and care for, the animals AND their environments. Zoos are the most popular family venue in the world. They are far more popular than all the sports venues combined.
It may seem like outlawing cattle prods would be a good idea. Frankly, as a zoo professional, I have never seen a cattle prod used. However, zoo staff often carry pepper spray and other non-lethal means of self protection, in case of a dangerous encounter with an animal. We strive to use things that will deter problems without ever harming the people or the animals.
It is prudent to do this. A bit of deterrent can save lives, both human and animal, in the case of an exhibit failure, sabotage or human error.
To interfere with these safety measures does not make sense. Many tools can be used in cruel or abusive ways, but they are not. Professionals, and competent lay people, wield tools to make work safer and more efficient. I bet you have knives in your kitchen. Knives can be used to murder people. Does that justify outlawing knives? Evil will find a way to harm, regardless of tools allowed.
By the way, I had the privilege of helping to train some Pittsburgh Zoo professionals, many years ago, when I was at the Smithsonian. Some very fine people in the service of animals, citizens and conservation.
Thank you for your service and your consideration.
Professional Exotic Animal Manager, synalia.com/press
Photo credit: Courious merkat | Foto: zoos.media