Yesterday (June 20) at 4:30 p.m., CBS ch 2 had a full
rodeo, including 'bucking broncs', steer wrestling, tie-down roping and
bull- riding. I always say when it comes to rodeo, we don't need undercover
video - all you have to do is buy a ticket to watch blatant cruelty. When I
watched as much as I could take, this is what I saw:
Before the events began, the camera showed a close-up
of the 'cowboy's' boot spurs, though they (of course) did not show the spurs
being used on the animal in the chute (they didn't show anything in the
For the 'bare back' riding event, several horses who
were clearly strapped up with the flank strap left the chute and kicked
furiously with their back legs. They continued kicking well after the
'rider' fell off, a further indication of the strap's presence (I have
purchased a flank strap and spur for upcoming show-and-tell).
The horses were walking calmly before the 'bare back'
event; I forced myself to watch the steer wrestling: two savages on horses
chased a terrified steer who ran out of a chute; one savage jumped off his
horse and landed on the steer's head. The savage grabbed the steer's horns
and twisted them, trying to force the animal to flip over.
When this didn't work, the savage got the animal in a
head-lock with his arm against the animal's throat, and forced the animal's
head to twist; this action made this huge animal's entire body twist and his
back slammed hard to the ground, while his feet flailed in the air. I
couldn't watch any more. Someone on this list saw a steer's horn become
dislodged during such an event; this poor animal stumbled around
disorientedly, shaking his head. Someone else saw a calf die during a roping
It is my sense that the activist community is not as
concerned with rodeo as it is with circuses, etc. I don't understand this.
Matthew Scully in DOMINION calls rodeo 'America's answer to
PLEASE COMPLAIN LOUDLY TO CBS AND THE FOLLOWING
SPONSORS. I have contacted CBS headquarters for a meeting, which they claim
they're trying to arrange. If anyone is in the vicinity of CBS (524 w 57
street) stop in and request to speak with a PR person. They will likely
accommodate you with some flunky. It's not much; but I strongly feel we
should do whatever we can to get this outrageous animal cruelty off network
And as far as the army being a sponsor, we'll be
investigating whether tax dollars can be used to promote animal cruelty. As
most of you know, rodeo events are being challenged and banned all over the
Factsheet below sponsor contacts; below that is the
letter Coors wrote to me:
, click 'feedback' at the bottom of the page
UNITED STATES ARMY:
THE WRANGLER CORP.:
www.wrangler.com , click 'contact us'
www.coors.com , click 'talk to us'
FOR PACE FOODS AND PREGO:
, click 'contact campbell'
www.dodge.com , click 'contact us'
From Peta's website
Rodeos are promoted as rough and tough exercises of
human skill and courage in conquering the fierce, untamed beasts of the Wild
West. In reality, rodeos are nothing more than manipulative displays of
human domination over animals, thinly disguised as entertainment. What began
in the 1800s as a skill contest among cowboys has become a show motivated by
greed and big profits. (1)
Standard rodeo events include calf roping, steer
wrestling, bareback horse and bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer
wrestling, steer roping, and barrel racing. (2) The animals used in rodeos
are captive performers. Most are relatively tame but understandably
distrustful of human beings because of the harsh treatment that they have
received. Many of these animals are not aggressive by nature; they are
physically provoked into displaying "wild" behavior to make the cowboys look
The Tools That Cause Pain
Electric prods, spurs, and bucking straps are used to
irritate and enrage animals used in rodeos. The flank or "bucking" strap or
rope used to make horses and bulls buck is tightly cinched around their
abdomens, which causes the animals to "buck vigorously to try to rid
themselves of the torment," (3) which is what the rodeo promoters want the
animals to do in order to put on a good show for the crowds.
The flank strap, when paired with spurring, causes the
animals to buck even more violently, often resulting in serious injuries.
Former animal control officers have found burrs and
other irritants placed under the flank strap. (5) In addition, the flank
strap can cause open wounds and burns from when the hair is rubbed off and
the skin is chafed raw. (6)
Cows and horses are often prodded with an electrical
"hotshot" while in the chute to rile them, causing intense pain to the
animals. Peggy Larson, D.V.M., a veterinarian who in her youth was a
bareback bronc rider said, "Bovines are more susceptible to electrical
current than other animals. Perhaps because they have a huge 'electrolyte'
vat, the rumen [one of their stomachs]." (7)
The late Dr. C.G. Haber, a veterinarian who spent 30
years as a federal meat inspector, worked in slaughterhouses and saw many
animals discarded from rodeos and sold for slaughter. He described the
animals as being so extensively bruised that the only areas in which the
skin was attached to the flesh were the head, neck, legs, and belly. He
described seeing animals "with 6-8 ribs broken from the spine, and at times
puncturing the lungs." Haber saw animals with "as much as 2-3 gallons of
free blood accumulated under the detached skin." (8) These injuries are a
result of animals' being thrown in calf-roping events or being jumped on
from atop horses during steer wrestling.
Rodeo promoters argue that they must treat their
animals well in order to keep them healthy and usable. But this assertion is
belied by a statement that Dr. T.K. Hardy, a Texas veterinarian and sometime
steer-roper, made to Newsweek: "I keep 30 head of cattle around for
practice, at $200 a head. You can cripple 3 or 4 in an afternoon . it gets
to be a pretty expensive hobby." (9) Unfortunately, there is a steady supply
of newly discarded animals available to rodeo producers when other animals
have been worn out or fatally injured.
Injuries and Deaths
Although rodeo cowboys voluntarily risk injury by
participating in events, the animals they use have no such choice. Because
speed is a factor in many rodeo events, the risk of accidents is high.
A terrified, screaming young horse burst from the
chutes at the Can-Am Rodeo and, within five seconds, slammed into a fence
and broke her neck. Bystanders knew that she was dead when they heard her
neck crack, yet the announcer told the crowd that everything would "be all
right" because a vet would see her. (10) Sadly, incidents such as this are
not uncommon at rodeos. For example, by the end of the 2001, nine-day
Calgary Stampede in Alberta, Canada, six animals were dead, including a
horse who died of an aneurism and another who suffered a broken leg and had
to be euthanized. (11) The following year, at the same event, six more
animals died: five horses in the chuckwagon competition and a calf in the
roping event. (12)
At the "prestigious" National Finals Rodeo in Las
Vegas, a bull fell and fractured his spine seconds after leaving the chute.
(13) The year before, a bucking horse was euthanized after he flipped over
and broke his back. (14) An article in Extra! magazine stated, "[T]he TV
audience had no clue about what happened: The camera cut just before the
horse flipped over, and none of the announcers said one word about the
During the National Western Stock Show, a horse crashed
into a wall and broke his neck, while still another horse broke his back
after being forced to buck. (16) Dr. Cordell Leif told the Denver Post,
"Bucking horses often develop back problems from the repeated poundings they
take from the cowboys. There's also a real leg injury where a tendon breaks
down. Horses don't normally jump up and down." (17)
Calves roped while running routinely have their necks
snapped back by the lasso, often resulting in neck injuries. (18) Even Bud
Kerby, owner and operator of Bar T Rodeos Inc., agrees that calf roping is
inhumane. He told the St. George Spectrum that he "wouldn't mind seeing calf
roping phased out." (19) At the Connecticut Make-A-Wish Rodeo, one steer's
neck was forcefully twisted until it broke. (20)
Sometimes animals break loose from their pens and
escape, only to be shot by police untrained in capturing livestock. (21,22)
Rodeo association rules are not effective in preventing
injuries and are not strictly enforced, nor are penalties severe enough to
deter abusive treatment. For example, "[I]f a member abuses an animal by any
unnecessary, non-competitive or competitive action, he may be disqualified
for the remainder of the rodeo and fined $250 for the first offense, with
that fine progressively doubling with each offense thereafter." These are
small fines in comparison to the large purses that are at stake. Rules allow
the animals to be confined or transported in vehicles for up to 24 hours
without being properly fed, watered, or unloaded. (23)
Spurn the Spurs
If a rodeo comes to your town, protest to local
authorities, write letters to sponsors, leaflet at the gate, or hold a
Contact PETA for posters and fliers.
Check state and local laws to find out what types of
activities involving animals are and are not legal in your area. For
example, after a spectator videotaped a bull breaking his leg during a rodeo
event, a Pittsburgh law prohibiting bucking straps, electric prods, and
sharpened or fixed spurs in effect banned rodeos altogether, since most
rodeos currently touring the country use the flank straps prohibited by the
law. (24) Another successful means of banning rodeos is to institute a state
or local ban on calf roping, the event in which cruelty is most easily
documented. Since many rodeo circuits require calf roping, its elimination
can result in the overall elimination of rodeo shows.
1)Ronda Quaid, "A Tip of the Hat to the Vaqueros," Coastline, 1996.
2)Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, "The Sport," 2002.
3)Hattie Klotz, "Bucking Bronco Dies in Corel Center Rodeo," The
Ottawa Citizen, 9 Aug. 1999.
4)Dr. Peggy Larson, D.V.M., M.S., J.D., E-mail to PETA, 15 Nov.
5)Ingrid Newkirk, Former animal control officer, Eyewitness account.
6)Chris Heidenrich, "Animal-Rights Group Protests Rodeo," Daily
Herald, 17 Jul. 1998.
8)Humane Society of the United States, Interview with C.G. Haber,
D.V.M. (Rossburg, Ohio), 1979.
9)Eric Mills, "Rodeo: American Tragedy or Legalized Cruelty?" The
Animals' Agenda, Mar. 1990, p. 27.
11)"Another Horse Dies at Stampede," CFCNplus.ca (CFCN-CTV), 13 Jul.
12)"Stampede Animal Deaths Worry Humane Society," CBC News Online,
15 Jul. 2002.
13)Rob Miech, "Bucking Bull Is Euthanized," Las Vegas Sun, 13 Dec.
14)Jeff Wolfe, "Horse Destroyed After Breaking Back," Las Vegas
Review-Journal, 10 Dec. 2001.
15)Karen Charman, "Riding, Roping-and Editing," Extra!, May/June
2002, p. 25.
16)Renate Robey, "Horse Euthanized After Show Accident," Denver
Post, 16 Jan. 1999.
17)Steve Lipsher, "Veterinarian Calls Rodeos Brutal to Stock,"
Denver Post, 20 Jan. 1991.
19)Patrice St. Germain, "PETA: Rodeo Cruel to Animals; Rodeo Fans
Say Animals Treated Well," St. George Spectrum, 15 Sep. 2001.
20)Lynn Fredericksen, "Charity Says It's Done With Rodeos," New
Haven Register, 4 Jun. 1998.
21)Escaped Bull Killed at Soccer Fields in Illinois," USA Today, 1
22)"Lot of Bull," USA Today, 25 Jan. 1999, p. 3A.
23)Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, "PRCA Animal Welfare
24)Timothy McNulty, "City Council Prodded to Ease Rules and Bring
Back Rodeos," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 18 Jun. 2002.
Re: Coors Mail (CMR)
Thanks for your e-mail. We want you to know that Coors
ensures the welfare of the animals in it's PRCA sponsored rodeos by
carefully screening all contractors associated with any given rodeo. These
contracts are renewed annually with consideration given to the best
interests of contestant, livestock, consumer and company before a new
contract is signed.
We recognize that rodeo can be a rough sport. However,
it is also important to note that rodeo contestants care for, feed, and work
with their animals. These animals are their livelihood and they know that
only well-treated livestock will perform well. Our involvement is
conditional upon the quality of the contestants.
Rodeo sponsorship in regard to animal cruelty, however,
generates many opinions. If you have specific questions or concerns about
rodeo rules and regulations, please contact Cindy Schondholtz at the
Professional Rodeo Cowboys' association at 719-528-4794.
We appreciate your sharing your views with us and
giving us an opportunity to respond.
Craig M. Rangel
Consumer Information Sr. Representative
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