November 7, 2013
History in Los Angeles was made when its city council unanimously passed a ban on bullhooks. Years of work, tireless effort, and constant prodding by dedicated animal welfare advocates and the community, finally resulted in a victory for our elephants.
We moved city hall. Then a horrible thing happened. Councilmember Cedillo offered a friendly amendment which supported the ban but would delay its effective date for three years. This was done to assuage the circus interests who cried for their business needs and inconveniences.
I simply cannot let this go. The council members rightly characterized the use of the bullhooks as torture and animal cruelty. Council President Wesson while watching a heart wrenching video of "trainers" using the bullhook while the elephants screamed and cried, said "I've seen enough - let's vote" and ordered the video stopped. Each member of council then reiterated how horrific this abuse is and that the use of the bullhook will not be tolerated in Los Angeles.
Then they accepted the amendment and the continuing torture by bullhook for three more years.
I do understand legitimate business reasons for delaying the effective date of new legislation. I have chaired the legislative committee of a statewide organization for over a decade. There are times that infrastructure needs to be put in place, forms created, personnel trained, or time allotted to draft local ordinances to effectuate compliance with a new state law.
This is not that. How can we permit conduct that our lawmakers deem to be torture, and, as such a felony under the California animal cruelty statue, to continue for three more years? If I yanked the hair of any reader of this article and said " the good news is that I will let go in three years" I would not be congratulated for my benevolence. This is not okay with me. I submit to you that it is not okay with the elephants either.
I would have liked to see the council members stand up to the circus and their powers that be. I would have liked to see them say that it is inhumane to permit such cruel acts for the sake of a silly parlor trick. I would have liked to see them just say "no" to the amendment.
But they didn't.
I apologize if I seem ungrateful for the bullhook ban that will go into effect in three years. I apologize if I appear immature and unfamiliar with the world of business negotiations. I apologize to my colleagues if I am the wet blanket at the victory party.
How, oh how do we apologize to the elephants...
"We are not the only animal that mourns; apes do, and elephants, and dogs. Yet we are the only one that tortures." Geraldine Brooks
President Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles