Eyewitnesses Report Dogs Kicked, Punched During Shrine Circus

PETA Calls On City and Federal Authorities to Take Action

For Immediate Release:
February 25, 2014

David Perle 202-483-7382

Topeka, Kansas – In response to reports from numerous horrified eyewitnesses who said that they saw at least two handlers punch and kick dogs during a Shrine circus performance in Topeka on February 23, PETA has sent an urgent complaint calling on Topeka law enforcement to investigate the incident and seek cruelty charges where appropriate. According to eyewitnesses, a fight broke out between two malamutes who were used in the show, and a male handler—rather than splashing the dogs with water, startling them with a loud noise, or using another humane and acceptable manner of breaking up the fight—punched at least one of the dogs in the face. A female handler reportedly kicked one of the dogs.

PETA has asked the circus’s venue, the Kansas Expocentre, to retain any relevant security footage and is reaching out to witnesses. The group is also calling on the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to investigate the circus for potential violations of the federal Animal Welfare Act (AWA).

“Punching and kicking dogs isn’t just despicable—it’s illegal everywhere, including in a circus show,” says PETA Foundation Deputy General Counsel Delcianna Winders. “PETA’s message to families is that hurting animals is the rule, not the exception, when it comes to circuses that force animals to perform—so the best way to help animals is by staying away from these cruel circuses.”

Other Shrine circuses across the country have used animal acts presented by exhibitors that are notorious for repeatedly violating the animal-care and public-safety provisions of the AWA. The Hamid Circus, which coordinated the 2014 Arab Shrine circus performances in Topeka, does not appear to have a USDA exhibitor’s license.

For more information, please visit PETA.org.


For Media: Contact PETA's
Media Response Team.


Get PETA Updates

Stay up to date on the latest vegan trends and get breaking animal rights news delivered straight to your inbox!

By submitting this form, you’re acknowledging that you have read and agree to our privacy policy and agree to receive e-mails from us.

 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind