CRESTVIEW — A group that opposes animal abuse continues to protest the Loomis Bros. Circus that was scheduled to perform Saturday for the 11th year.
Andrew Pratt started a petition in August that has collected more than 2,000 signatures.
Pratt said he made Crestview Mayor David Cadle and the city's Historic Preservation Board (CHPB) aware of the petition. The Historic Preservation Board uses the circus as a fundsraiser.
Cadle said he encouraged Pratt to bring his concerns to the City Council because there is no city ordinance that protects circus animals against abuse.
"The council seems to be open to discussing it further," Cadle said.
However, an ordinance could not be approved in time to stop Saturday's performance.
Pratt spoke to the City Council at its Nov. 5 meeting.
"Like many in Crestview, I'm a military veteran, and just as I served to protect others then, I continue to do that today," Pratt said. "I'm an advocate for animals and a voice for those who have no voice."
Pratt called for the city to switch to an all-human circus.
"It's just as easy to invite an animal-free circus to Crestview instead," he said. "It's as simple as dialing a different phone number. You can get the same experience from shows like Cirque du Soleil and Cirque Italia that routinely tour Florida."
According to Pratt, Loomis Bros. Circus has been cited multiple times by the U.S. Department of Agriculture for violating the Animal Welfare Act. Circus owner Jutin Loomis last year denied the allegations, calling them "fake news."
Our message is simply that exploitation of animals is outdated and unnecessary when other alternatives are available," Pratt said in a Facebook message.
Pratt's said his groups planned to protest at the circus Saturday at Old Spanish Trail Park.
Ann Spann, a Preservation Board member, said she was not aware of the petition.
Spann said the board would not comment on the protest against the circus.
After similar complaints, Fort Walton Beach ended its relationship with Cole Bros. Circus in 2015 and switched to Cirque Italia, with a solely human circus cast.
"I’m asking the CHPB and the people of Crestview to make a simple change and support an animal-free circus for next year, just as FWB did this year," Pratt said in the Facebook message. "It’s all the fun and excitement of the circus, but without unnecessary cruelty that comes from forcing captive animals to perform just to make a quick buck."