By: Marilyn Ramos
The rodeo is coming to town soon and they bring with them animal abuse and animal injury. Actually, the gay rodeo is coming in May and, NO, the animals are not gay! The gay rodeo is campier and has events such as goat dressing and steer decorating. However, rodeos – gay, straight, asexual, whatever – are inherently cruel.
Rodeos maim, injure and kill untold numbers of animals every year. Rodeo associations refuse to release injury and death reports, or the record of violations of their so called “humane rules”.
“Do I think it hurts the calf? Sure I do. I’m not stupid“, says Keith Martin, chair of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), in an interview about abusive calf roping events.
Rodeo handlers bully animals with electric prods, straps, spurs and tail twisting. Rodeo organizers claim compliance with animal welfare rules, but well documented images and videos tell another story. A terrified calf (usually after being kicked, having its tail twisted or his/her body shocked with an electric prod) flees into the ring at high speeds so the “cowboy” can neck-choke him into the ground. Usually, the “cowboy” body-slams the young animal again for theatrical effect. In bucking events, the horses’ intestines and groins are cinched so tightly they lurch in response to pain. Animals who won’t buck may be shocked with electric prods. Many careen into fences, posts or chutes. Even without physical coercion, the noise, the foreign surroundings and stress of being chased can cause extreme fear in these animals. Are we having fun yet?
“Without torture, there can be no rodeo,” says Peggy W. Larson, DVM, MS, JD, a former bareback bronco rider who explains that horses and bulls buck wildly only because they are in pain from rigid flank straps and spurring.
Rodeos promote themselves as a throwback to the “Old West” where they are exhibiting western heritage and ranching/farming practices. However, this is not true. This is a myth perpetuated by rodeo organizers. Events like chute dogging (it’s where you get into the chutes with the steer, and when they open the gates and send the steer out, you have to flip him over) and goat dressing have nothing to do with heritage. Besides, just because some things are deemed tradition doesn’t mean it is right. Slavery and women as chattel were once tradition too. It is time to buck tradition and stop animal abuse in the name of entertainment.
There is nothing entertaining when you have to use fear, stress, pain and intimidation to make animals perform, not to mention the stupidity of staking a goat and having two men run out to the goat and place a pair of jockey shorts or some other form of clothing in the fastest time possible. Because being the fastest means you win, the goats inevitably get injured in the process. What’s the point? Where is the fun in man handling an innocent goat and scaring the hell out of him/her? I don’t get it and I never will. You want to show how macho you are? Strap one of those pulley things around your waist and drag an SUV a few yards or throw logs across a river. Intimidating a cute animal and putting panties on him? Not so much…not so macho!
These alleged “cowboys” (many of whom have never seen the inside of a farm or worked on a ranch) VOLUNTARILY put themselves out there and even VOLUNTARILY put themselves in harm’s way. The animals DON’T. The animals are innocent. The animals don’t get to choose for themselves and I doubt they would choose to purposely be maimed, injured and in some circumstances die just so that people with nothing better to do can be entertained.
If we did to dogs what gets done to goats, calves, horses and bulls in rodeos, there would be a public outcry. Rodeos claim to love animals. If you truly love animals, you don’t hurt them. The bottom line is that rodeos explicitly condone and glorify violence and brutality toward animals. That’s bad for the animals, bad for children and bad for society.
Please don’t support the rodeo and maybe, just maybe, it might go the way of other nonsensical traditions.
As a side note, shame on any organization (yes, I’m talking to you Paws & Hearts) who has accepted being a beneficiary of this rodeo. How can you claim to care about animals then profit from the abuse and exploitation of animals? Not cool in my book. They’ll be getting an email from me. If you feel the same then I ask that you call or email them as well.