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Stop Rodeo Cruelty

NEWS (January 2006) - Bull suffers broken back and abuse at Tasmanian Rodeo

Read about ALVs protests at the Melbourne International Rodeo

"The immorality of rodeos extends to the arrogance of the riders and their attitude to the animals, and to the way the audience is demeaned by watching such a tawdry spectacle." (Vet attending an Australian rodeo).

rodeo crueltyRodeo, promoted by one Australian organiser as “great family fun”, is in truth nothing more than a blatant exhibition of animal abuse which has no more place in a civilized society than cock-fighting or bear-baiting. It is impossible to have a “humane” rodeo, or one which does not pose serious risk of injury or death to animals. Far from being exercises of human skill and courage over wild beasts as their supporters would have us believe, they are manipulative displays of human domination over frightened and hurting animals.

Around 4000 horses and bulls are used in the over 600 rodeos held around Australia each year, in addition to an unknown number of calves and steers. Rodeos in most states are self regulated, meaning that only a small fraction of animal injuries and deaths ever become public knowledge.

“Bronco” and Bull Riding

rodeo crueltyWhile a horse may buck for fun, rodeo horses buck uncontrollably from torment. The secret is the flank strap, which is tightened painfully around the horse’s sensitive flank area as the chute gate is opened. The horse bucks in a futile attempt to escape the discomfort. Rodeo horses do not stop bucking when they have thrown their rider, but only once the irritating strap is loosened. Bucking events cannot be held without this strap. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, banned the flank strap over a decade ago and has not held a rodeo since. The strap can cause bloody and painful open wounds which investigators have found at virtually every rodeo. In addition, bucking horses often suffer back and leg injuries from repeated pounding on hard ground.

Rodeo organisers like to play on the fallacy that bulls are tough skinned and impervious to pain. The absurdity of this is obvious when it is remembered that the skin of cattle is sensitive enough to detect a fly alighting. Bucking bulls not only suffer the same flank strap, spur, muscle and skeletal injuries as horses, but they also typically receive the worst abuse from electric shocking. Cattle are particularly sensitive to electricity, and abusers use this to their advantage to make normally docile animals appear wild and dangerous. A Chicago rodeo organiser is quoted as saying, “Bulls today have been bred to be docile. You can’t make an animal buck if you don’t do something to it”.

Calf Roping

rodeo crueltyMost people with an ounce of compassion can see that there’s something wrong with jerking a 3-4 month old baby animal to a halt with a rope around its neck, slamming it to the ground and tying its legs so that it can’t move. The frightened calves are usually travelling at high speed when lassoed and hit the end of rope with great force. They may become airborne before crashing to the ground, with a high probability of breaking their back, neck or legs in the process. Tearing of ligaments, disc rupture, damage to the thymus gland, trachea and subcutaneous tissue, and haemorrhaging is also common. If they can still breathe, calves will cry pitifully as would be expected of any terrified baby.

Steer Wrestling and Roping

Steer wrestling requires the rider to throw the steer by jumping onto him from a galloping horse and twisting his neck until he falls to the ground. Not unexpectedly, this can cause muscle, tendon and spinal injuries and well as considerable pain. In the related event of steer roping, the rider lassoes the horns of a galloping steer, then circles him on horseback to pull the rope tight around his legs until he crashes to the ground.

Rodeo promoters argue that they must treat their animals well to keep them healthy and usable. A statement from a former steer roper comes closer to the truth: “I keep 30 head of cattle for practice. You can cripple 3 or 4 in an afternoon”.

Dr C G Haber, a vet who also worked as a meat inspector, saw many discarded rodeo animals. He described them as so extensively bruised that the only areas in which the skin was attached to the flesh were the head, neck, legs and belly. He saw animals with 6-8 broken ribs, sometimes puncturing the lungs, and as much as 2-3 gallons of free blood accumulated under the detached skin.

What you can do

Don’t attend rodeos or any other events where animals are abused for human entertainment, and tell your family and friends why. You can also become an ALV supporter and help us in the fight against cruelty to animals.

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