Shame on Mayor Vincent Gray! As
the District’s chief executive officer, the mayor is responsible for ensuring
that Washington’s prohibition against the cruel chaining of elephants is
enforced. So when Ringling scheduled shows in the city in 2011, PETA and scores
of local citizens called on the mayor to prevent Ringling from chaining
elephants backstage at the Verizon Center at night—a practice the District’s
Department of Health acknowledged that Ringling admitted to. But despite PETA’s efforts, neither the mayor nor the Department of Health did anything to stop
Ringling from keeping elephants chained by two legs so tightly that they could
only take about one step in any direction, making it impossible for them to
move around or to urinate or defecate in an area separate from where they ate,
drank, or lay down—conduct prohibited by D.C. law.

 What’s more, records recently
obtained by PETA reveal that the
mayor’s office accepted of a gift approximately 200 discounted tickets from the circus last
year
, in violation of D.C.’s
conflict of interest law
, which states that public officials shall not take
anything of value when it could influence them in the discharge of their duties.
This
is in addition to D.C. officials’ attempts to once again abdicate all
responsibility for elephants in its jurisdiction, even though the duty to
enforce state and local laws—which are more protective than minimum federal
standards—falls to the city. Elephants
are languishing on Ringling’s watch, and they need your help now more than ever!

 Ringling’s own admissions in federal court leave no questions about the circus’s chaining
practices—the elephants are kept chained by two legs so tightly that they can
only take about one step in any direction. This is a
violation of D.C. anti-cruelty laws, which state that
cruel chaining includes the use of a chain that is too short for an animal to
“move around” or “urinate or defecate in a separate area from
the area where [he or she] must eat, drink, or lie down.” Ringling also routinely denies the elephants access to food
and water while they are chained—another violation of the prohibition on cruel
chaining, which requires that any chained animals have access to food and
water. PETA has been in touch with the mayor and the Department
of Health this year in advance of Ringling’s D.C. stop, and the agency has just
informed us that it will inspect Ringling only “during normal government
business hours: 8:15 a.m.–4:45 p.m.,”
refusing to inspect
the circus at night, when the elephants
are chained in violation of D.C. law.

Public input is extremely important to officials—it
influences them when they are determining their course of action. So it is more important than ever to condemn Ringling’s
long history of abuse. Please speak up
for the elephants forced to perform difficult and painful tricks for Ringling
now by reminding Mayor Gray that cruelty to animals doesn’t occur just during “normal
government business hours” and urging him to ensure that Washington’s prohibition
on cruel chaining is enforced!
Please feel free to use the sample letter
below in an e-mail to the mayor. If you are a Washington resident, be sure to mention
that in your letter. Remember: Personalized comments will help ensure that your
message is read. Please follow up your
e-mail with a call to Mayor Gray’s office and also spread the word about this
urgent issue to your friends and family.

Mayor Vincent Gray
202-727-6300
202-724-8815 (text telephone)
eom@dc.gov

Suggested letter:

I was horrified to learn that Washington officials appear to
be abdicating their responsibility to ensure the health and well-being of
elephants used by the Ringling Bros. and Barnum Bailey Circus.
Alarmingly, your office even accepted a gift of approximately 200
discounted tickets from the circus last year, in violation of the
city’s conflict of interest law, which states that public officials shall not take
anything of value when it could influence them in the discharge of their duties.
If offered such a gift again this year, I urge you to immediately make the
ethical decision to refuse the gift and refuse to let Ringling once again
blatantly violate the animal protection laws that would otherwise help protect
the animals suffering under the circus’s care.

Ringling’s own statements to the D.C. Department of Health (“DOH”)
in 2011 that it chains elephants at night at the Verizon Center and its admissions
in federal court leave no questions about the circus’s chaining practices—the
elephants are kept chained by two legs so tightly that they can only take about
one step in any direction. This is a violation of section 22-1001(b) of the D.C. Code, which states that cruel
chaining includes the use of a chain that is too short for an animal to
“move around” or “urinate or defecate in a separate area from
the area where [he or she] must eat, drink, or lie down.”

Ringling also routinely denies the elephants
access to food and water while they are chained—another violation of the
prohibition on cruel chaining, which requires that any chained animals have
access to food and water. Despite this, the DOH has stated that it will inspect
Ringling only “during normal government business hours: 8:15
a.m.–4:45 p.m.,” refusing to
inspect the circus at night. To have knowledge of Ringling’s intended
violations and ignore them because they fall outside standard business hours is
a dereliction of duty.

It is imperative that the DOH conduct site inspections both
during the day and at night and immediately provide the Washington
Humane Society (“WHS”) with any and all evidence of any potential
violations. Because the WHS lacks inspection authority and because the DOH is
the only entity authorized to assess the conditions under which Ringling
confines elephants at night—the time when Ringling has admitted to chaining
them—I strongly urge you to ensure that the DOH commits to performing routine
inspections both at night and during the day, to have the agency immediately
inform the WHS of any potential violations outside their enforcement authority
so that WHS can take appropriate action to enforce Washington’s cruelty-to-animals
laws, and to require that
every precaution be taken to make sure that animals do not suffer.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this serious issue
and for remembering that animal abuse does not occur only during “normal
government business hours.” May I please hear from you right away that you
will see to it that Washington’s animal protection laws are fully enforced?

Sincerely,

Your name

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Article source: PETA Action Alerts

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