Animal Defenders of Westchester

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We advocate on all animal protection and exploitation issues, including experimentation, factory farming, rodeos, breeders and traveling animal acts.

Animal Defenders of Westchester
P.O. Box 205
Yonkers, NY 10704


Way to make a Buck

Op Ed Editor
Washington Post
18 April 2004

I was nothing short of shocked to read WAY TO MAKE A BUCK by staff writer Lee Hockstader, about bullriding. This article glorifies rodeo events that are being challenged and stopped all over the world. There is not one single mention of the controversy surrounding bullriding, much less the strap - CALLED A GROIN STRAP, for God's sake - that makes the bull buck.

No, esteemed Washington Post, the bull isn't "genetically engineered to buck aggressively" - he bucks due to a strap or rough rope cinched tightly near his genitals. Think you'd enjoy that, Mr. Hockstader? No, revered Washington Post, of Woodward/Bernstein acclaim, the bull doesn't have a "glint in his eye that suggests malice" - he's standing peacefully in the chute, by your own account, till he's hit with an electric prod, has his tail twisted, and is gouged with spurs before the groin strap is yanked into place; THAT'S what makes him "...begin a convulsive, clockwise, bucking spin...whirling like a helicopter before a crash..."

Where's the investigative reporting, Washington Post? The strap is CLEARLY SEEN during all bucking events - the animal WILL NOT BUCK without it! Even Steve Gander, organizer of the "World's Toughest Rodeo" admits bucking bulls and horses are prodded with an electrical hotshot. Where's the scrupulous journalism?

Ben Bradley must be spinning in his grave!

This is the ugly truth about the odious 'sport' you've chosen to laud, that your reporter couldn't seem to find out:

Bucking bulls and horses die at rodeo events.

In January a horse was killed after breaking his leg during a bucking event at the National Western Stock Show, Rodeo and Horse Show in Denver. In Las Vegas a bull used for bucking events fell and fractured his spine moments after leaving the chute. His injuries were so severe he had to be killed. Veterinarian Dr. C.G. Haber saw scores of animals discarded from rodeos and sent to slaughter; the condition of the animals sickened him. "I have seen animals with six to eight ribs broken from the spine, at times puncturing the lungs. I have seen as much as two to three gallons of free blood accumulated under the detached skin. Bullfights are merciful compared to rodeos. It's high time this cruel sport be outlawed in the U.S." ( )

In an account published in the Buffalo News, upstate resident Valerie Will reported, "I stood nearby as rodeo folk walked among the calm bulls. As show time neared, they tried to get one of the bulls into the area near the chute.

The bull resisted, scrunching into the corner.

His eyes teared, his nose ran and the bull urinated and defecated. He rotated his head as if searching for a way out. His eyes rolled."


This is my experience with bullriding and rodeo events: I have devoted every moment of my spare time to putting an end to them all. Along with local activists, my efforts put a stop to bullriding in North Salem, the South Bronx and Mount Vernon, N.Y. Our work at the "Bronx International Championship Rodeo" was televised on Fox TV on a beautiful spring day. The bulls sniffed the perfumed air and wagged their tails peacefully. I had to leave when their torture started, sickened that I couldn't stop it. This rodeo disgracefully used a dead 9/11 fireman's memory to bring in other firefighters; I looked each of them in the eye and said "Get your cruelty RIGHT HERE." They were decent people; they never came back.

While demonstrating against the rodeo in Mt. Vernon, one of the 'cowboys' came outside to harass us. We asked him "How would you like it if someone put an electric prod on your back?"

He answered "How would you like it if someone put an electric prod in your pussy?" There's your heroes, Washington Post; there's your folks who're " Vietnam veterans" as Hocktader quoted one of the judges. Thankfully, Mt. Vernon Mayor Ernest Davis is a decent man who did not invite the rodeo back.

The bull is not a block of wood; he is a sentient, intelligent being whose mother loved him and who feels pain exactly like your reporter. If what is done to the bulls were done to dogs and cats, there would be an outcry across the land. The Washington Post must not allow this exploitation to continue by being asleep at the journalistic wheel; I demand all your reporting be thorough and truly educational, even regarding those who can't speak for themselves - ESPECIALLY regarding those who can't speak for themselves. I will not settle for less.

Kiley Blackman, Spokesperson
Animal Defenders of Westchester

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