Circus animal issue resurfaces

Later this week, the City Council is expected to vote on imposing tougher restrictions on those who bring the circus to town.

Council Members Betsy Hodges (13th Ward) and Paul Ostrow (1st Ward) are seeking the changes. This comes after failed efforts last fall to outright ban circuses in Minneapolis. Council members Ralph Remington (10th Ward) and Cam Gordon (2nd Ward) proposed the ban, believing it would better align with the city’s position on the humane treatment of animals.

The new restrictions range from increasing the permit fee to outlining how frequently the animals have to be cleaned.

In order to get a permit for hosting a circus, applicants would have to pay $750 if the ordinance passes. Applications would have to be filed at least 90 days prior to an event. And applicants would be required to provide records on everything from training to breeding.

Also at the applicant’s expense, an officer from Minneapolis Animal Care & Control would inspect the facilities and locations that are used to train, breed and house the animals prior to their arrival in Minneapolis.

The new rules specify that animal feces must be cleaned within an hour of occurrence and that animals have to be provided with fresh water at least every four hours.

During a Public Services and Regulatory Services Committee meeting last week, Remington expressed disapproval of not having a public hearing on the tougher regulations. He argued that additional restrictions would be more expensive and would require more staff resources to enforce than a ban would and, therefore, warranted a public hearing.

The ordinance is listed on the Ways and Means Committee meeting agenda for today. Separately, the Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee is scheduled to discuss administrative citations at its Feb. 20 meeting.