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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Spokane City Council bans use of elephant hooks

Spokane firefighter Jeff Hager gives a splash of water to Carol, the 10,000-pound Asian elephant, Sept. 10, 2014, at the Spokane Arena. Carol, along with Patti, center background, were treated to loaves of bread after taking a quick bath from Station 6 firefighters and their pumper engine. The animals belonged to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)

A device used to control elephants will no longer be allowed to be used in Spokane.

The Spokane City council voted 6-1 to prohibit the use of elephant hooks, Monday.

The ordinance, presented by Councilwoman Lori Kinnear, amends the current animal cruelty city code. The ordinance prohibits the brandishing elephant hooks, which are also called ankus, goads and bullhooks. The rule also forbids the use of baseball bats, pitchforks and axe handles for similar purposes.

Public comment mostly supported the ordinance.

“I love the circus but I will not attend a circus at the expense of animal cruelty,” said Tia Rosetti, a local animal activist.

Councilman Mike Fagan opposed the ordinance. He argued that the council should focus on other animal abuse issues, like dog and cock fighting, he said. The council received a letter from Held Entertainment, a producer of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus and other live acts opposing the ordinance. The letter claims the ordinance was “based on false information” and that there is no alternative tool for controlling elephants without restraining them.

Still, the ordinance may have little impact. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, which brought elephants to the Spokane Veterans Memorial Arena last October and will likely return in the future, recently said it was retiring its elephant act in May after 134 years, moving its remaining elephants to the 200-acre Center for Elephant Conservation, located in Florida between Orlando and Tampa.