It's fair season in the Hudson Valley and beyond. Soon your local fairground site will be filled with deep fried dough, amusement rides, entertainment and even animals. Many fairs have everything from your local 4H club showing off cows and goats to far more exotic animals like reptiles and monkeys.

Low angle view of a ticket counter near a ferris wheel, Coney Island, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, USA

Both native and exotic animals are often a big part of local fairs. Despite there being several guidelines for showing animals the Town of Wallkill has decided to speak out. The event is called the Banana Derby and it has been controversial for years. The event has dogs run around a track with a monkey saddled on top of them. The event travels to fairs all over the country.

The Town of Wallkill's supervisor, George Serrano, has released a statement condemning one of the attractions at a local fair and stated that he believes fairs should discontinue events that mistreat animals. It's a sentiment that anyone could get behind. It brings up an important question. Are there rules to ensure animal safety while at a local fair or at any exhibit?

There are actually several. There are even federal guidelines to make sure these types of acts and exhibits are not mistreating animals.

To ensure the safety and welfare of these animals, the Animal Welfare Act Guidelines for County and State Fairs was created. According to the act, not just anyone can put an animal act together or display exotic animals for compensation. They must be licensed by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service.

According to the act, licensed exhibitors are subject to random inspections of where the animals are kept under the law. The inspections are conducted by a veterinarian hired by USDA who is employed to look for violations. The animal's quality of life is documented.


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