By Jennifer O’Connor
Horses are beautiful, intelligent, sensitive animals. They should not be carted around in 100-degree heat or in the freezing cold in crumby trailers to the DCU Center in Worcester and other venues for rodeo entertainment. IT’S ANIMAL ABUSE!
If horses and cows could follow a calendar, August would be the month they’d dread most. August is the busiest month on the summer rodeo circuit, and many animals forced to take part in it don’t live to see September. A calf recently sustained a broken back and was left paralyzed at a rodeo in Oregon, a horse was killed in a bucking event in Wyoming and a horse collapsed in an arena in Arizona and required CPR, according to an eyewitness. The list of injuries and fatal incidents goes on and on.
More and more people are coming to realize that it’s high time these violent and often deadly spectacles were relegated to the history books.
Animals forced to participate in rodeos are routinely hit, kicked, spurred, slammed onto the ground and goaded into participating in violent displays. It’s difficult to understand the mindset of those who purposefully agitate animals or of those who enjoy watching them do it.
In calf roping, a common event at rodeos across the U.S. and Canada, terrified young calves race desperately out of a chute to which they’ve been confined and often sustain neck and back injuries when the rope used to lasso them
yanks them violently to the ground. A flank strap is bound tightly around the midsections of horses and bulls used in the bucking and bull-riding events, causing the animals to buck wildly in an effort to rid themselves of it.
Animals have sustained broken necks, backs and legs and experienced aneurysms and heart attacks during rodeos. And degloving — when a steer’s tail is stripped of skin — is a particularly hideous injury.
In a sick attempt to broaden their appeal to families, some rodeos are even encouraging kids to abuse sheep in “mutton bustin’” events. Terrified sheep are forced to carry screaming children — who may kick them and pull their tails and ears — all over the arena. These events teach young people to harass, frighten and harm animals for fun.
Animals used in rodeos are specifically excluded from the meager protections of the federal Animal Welfare Act. Many states exempt rodeos from their anti-cruelty laws as well because they don’t regulate “normal agricultural practices” and/or “livestock.”
Most rodeos are self-policing, and it’s essentially a free-for-all. The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association’s “humane rules” are worthless — they are rarely enforced, and when they are, the fines imposed on the participants are so small as to be meaningless in comparison to the big prize money they’re vying for. They also allow devices that inflict pain on the animals: electric prods “when necessary” and spurs, which are supposed to be “dull,” even though that’s contrary to what spurs are.
There are no bucolic pastures awaiting these animals in retirement. When they’re too worn-out or broken-down to continue, they typically get a one-way ticket to the slaughterhouse.
People who care about animal welfare shouldn’t support any event that causes animals pain and suffering. Please steer clear of all rodeos this August – and forever!