Circus Investigates Animal Abuse Claims During Weekend Shows

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The Hamid Circus is investigating complaints that dogs were abused during a weekend performance of the 'Shrine Circus' performance in Topeka.

Several people posted on Facebook that it happened during the Alaskan Malamutes act. They said the animals started fighting. One poster claimed they were on leashes and - when staff couldn't pull them apart - they punched the dogs in the face.

Other posters accused the staff of kicking and punching the dogs. Some of them were calling it abuse.

Jill Foster-Koch posted: "The dogs were performing and then started fighting with each other. They were on leashes and the staff tried to pull them away and the dogs wouldn't let up so they punched the dogs in the face. The dogs would've killed each other. It was a mess all the way around."

Erin Moll McGuire posted: "Even though the lights were turned out we still witnessed the kicking and hitting of the dogs. While the dogs were indeed attacking each other, the way the handlers were going about it to break up them up was unnecessary and downright abusive!"

But not everyone who posted saw the situation the same way. Some posted that they understood the trainer's actions.

Ashley Luttjohann posted: "Do you honestly think him hitting the dog hurt any worse than the other dog tearing into him? You can't go put your hands anywhere close to the mouths to "nicely separate" them or you will get mauled yourself.... I was there. I saw this as well. Animals fight sometimes. I thought they did a good job handling it. I'm not saying they don't abuse these animals, and I think it's awful. And if they did go back and kick the dog after the fight was over then that is horrible."

On its Facebook page, Hamid Circus said the well being of its animals is its first priority.

"(T)he animal handler in question has been reassigned while an internal investigation is being conducted," the Hamid Circus post read. "We take these allegations very seriously and will take appropriate disciplinary action as warranted."

The Kansas Expocentre said Monday it had not received any complaints about the circus performance. Topeka Police also had no reports.

Posted by: Nick Viviani/Melissa Brunner