Goshen drops bid for law to protect performing animals

Goshen town officials have shelved a proposed local law regulating animal performances.

February 24, 2001

The Times Herald-Record

By Christopher Mele


The Goshen Town Board has dropped further consideration of a controversial law aimed at protecting animals from abuse at rodeos and other events.

The so-called performing-animals law ignited a fury of responses from animal-rights activists who supported it and from rodeo operators, cowboys and farmers who opposed it.

More than 200 people packed a public hearing last month on the measure, which proposed banning mechanical devices, such as electric prods and flank straps, to get animals to perform.

The proposal was sparked, in part, because Silent Farm in Goshen hosts an annual charity fund-raising rodeo. Animal-rights supporters maintain that rodeos in general are barbaric.

Silent Farm's owners and its rodeo operator said the animals are well-treated and not subjected to abuses.

Goshen Supervisor Frank Romano said town officials agreed Thursday night that existing state and federal protections are adequate to address allegations of animal cruelty.

"The board felt there was no need to create a new level of oversight,'' he said. "Sometimes you can create too many layers of government and actually make things worse."

Councilwoman Honey Bernstein said she learned a lot about how rodeo operators run their business and about the devices they use to control horses and steers. She said testimony showed rodeos are not a sport in which animals are widely abused.

Debra Corr, president of the Mid-Hudson Horse Trails Association and trails chairwoman for the Orange County Horse Council was thankful that the issue had been closed.

"I'm really glad that they made this decision and I think it's the best thing for our community,'' she said.

However, an animal-rights activist who spearheaded the proposal vowed her fight was far from over.

"I don't care how long it takes,'' said Molly Hamilton-Mann, president of ROAR, Recognition of Animal Rights.

Hamilton-Mann said she was disappointed in the town's decision and said it acted too hastily before listening to all the evidence.

She had arranged for Steve Hindi, president of Chicago-based SHARK, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, to bring to Goshen this week a truck with four large video screens that displayed examples of animal cruelty at rodeos.

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