What is the accepted practice in the United States of America when someone breaks a federal law? Is it common practice to penalize the violator, or is it common practice to prohibit the industry from continuing to grow and prosper?
In recent days a circus was accused for mistreatment of their animals by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.(PETA) They filed numerous complaints with USDA against the circus, especially for its handling of elephants. The owner of the Ringling Bros. circus agreed to pay a $270,000 fine to settle allegations that it violated federal animal-welfare laws in its handling of elephants, tigers, zebras and other exotic animals. PETA said the fine is a good first step. But it called on the government to confiscate the elephants.
Does this sound familiar? No matter what penalty the Federal Government imposes on a violator… it is never enough to appease PETA. PETA went on to say, ” What remains to be done is for the public to be made aware of this history of abuse so that people will know to keep their children away from the circus,”
Notice, the circus was not shut down by the federal government. No new regulations were put upon the circus industry. The circus, while being closely monitored by federal government field inspections, can continue to make every effort to continue in its efforts to generate revenue as a business in the entertainment industry. In addition it is important to realize that other circuses that are not breaking the federal law, are not impacted by the violation of federal law by Ringling Bro. Circus.
Let’s look at another federal law and see how violators are treated. It is illegal to hunt, take, trap or remove Bald Eagles for any reason, according to the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. It is a Federal Law that was first passed to protect the birds in 1940, and then amended in 1962 to include the transport, sale, purchase, barter, possession, export, import, even the offer to sell, purchase, barter, transport, export, or import, a living or dead bird, nesting material, eggs, and/or chicks. The law goes on in great detail, to protect the Bald Eagle, eggs and chicks. It explains what the term “take” means in reference to this law, it relates to shooting, attempting to shoot, trap, pursue, poison, wound, kill, capture, collect, molest or even disturb Bald Eagles. The 1972 amendment increased the penalties for breaking this federal law. Plus rewards are provided for information leading to the arrest and conviction for those that violate this federal law.
Here we have another example of a federal law that is broken, yet in each case the person who violates the law is penalized while those who are not breaking the federal law have no impact what so ever.
This action seems to be reasonable and acceptable in practice when making every effort to protect these animals. Violators are penalized, while those who are not in violation may continue to enjoy the animals regardless of whether or not they are in their natural habitat, or performing for audiences.
No Industry should suffer as a result of less than four percent non-compliance!