Rodeo Season Update: Injuries and Deaths Pile Up

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The rodeo thug killed the steer by roping and then breaking his neck. The steer was then dragged through the mud until he finally died.

As rodeo season continues, the dead and broken bodies continue to pile up and SHARK has been there to document the harrowing scenes. One must look at the overall picture to get a clear idea that the injuries and deaths are not isolated head scratching incidents as the rodeos would have you believe, but for the animals are inevitable. There is plenty of denial to go around, plenty of fake surprise and horror from rodeo people but how the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) in particular can continue to deny any wrong doing and not make any serious attempts to hold accountable those responsible for horrible acts of abuse is beyond belief.

In June 2013, the Reno Rodeo chose to try and hide their crimes by instigating a ban on cameras, but that did not stop extremely abusive behavior being caught on a cell phone camera by local residents Ellie and Steven Lopez-Bowlan. The couple was on their way to their seats when they noticed rodeo personnel  jabbing a horse with a wire prod in his anus! Trapped in a confined chute, the horse was obviously in distress and was also being pinched, slapped and electro-shocked on both sides in order to aggravate him into bucking for the audience.

Ellie Lopez-Bowlan was so horrified she called down from her vantage point for the men to stop but was immediately harassed by rodeo personnel to get back to her seat. Not so surprisingly, Reno Rodeo official statement was of one of surprise, perhaps a little too surprised given its history of ignoring the electro-shocking of horses.  Even the rodeo veterinarian stated in a news article that the couple must have been mistaken; he would be horrified upon discovering such abuse. The problem is that the camera doesn’t lie, and the evidence was as plain as the nose on his face, so why didn’t he act? Just another cover–up which is routine for the Reno Rodeo. Lopez-Bowlan even had to file a formal complaint to local law enforcement after she started to receive threatening messages.

These incidents of animal abuse are often explained away as isolated incidents by rodeo people except SHARK caught the same stock contractors, the infamous Flying U Rodeo, at the Ute Stampede Rodeo in Nephi, Utah abusing another horse with a wire prod in his anus.  There is no excuse for this kind of despicable behavior by rodeo personnel who tied a horse’s tail to a gate, and repeatedly prodded and kicked him on his behind.

According to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle “at least six animals died” during the Cheyenne Frontier Days Rodeo this year.  Two steers had their legs broken, an injury which is extremely likely to end in death, another steer suffered a horrible and fatal neck injury when it was roped around the neck and dragged through the mud, its head flopping and lolling about in an utterly heartbreaking scenario. A calf was jerked off the ground in a roping event and landed badly. The rodeo stated the calf suffered a neck and back “injury” and recovered; however witness Brandon Bohn said he heard an audible snap of the calf’s neck and the animal appeared to no longer breathe. During the steer wrestling, a horse died of what the rodeo claims to be a pre-existing heart condition, but as it was being dragged up the trailer ramp, blood was clearly visible which is still unexplained. In the final days, another calf suffered a very severe back injury, which was potentially broken.

July’s California Rodeo Salinas fared no better; the injured animal tally included a young steer that was trampled by a horse during a roping event, which unfortunately, proved fatal. Another calf appeared to have its leg broken and was left to hobble to the pen where it was left for a considerable amount of time with no veterinarian care. On the final day amidst the pomp and circumstance of that ol’ Western tradition of glittering bulls, when bulls get sprayed in the face and eyes with an aerosol can and sprinkled with glitter, another calf was injured during the roping event, unable to stand he was hauled away on a tractor and hidden from view fate again, unknown.  The department store, Macys, sponsors the Salinas rodeo and when confronted with evidence of animal abuse chose to tow the corporate line stating that it does and will continue to support the event! SHARK is calling for a boycott of Macys.

At the Calgary Stampede Rodeo 2013 a steer was euthanized after suffering a broken neck. The rodeo veterinarian, Dr. Greg Evans stated that in addition to the severe neck injury the steer was paralyzed and had some systemic system failure. In other words, the contestant wrestled the animal so aggressively he broke the steer’s neck and then again, acted so surprised such a thing would happen! The rodeo was quick to suggest that this kind of injury is rare, but when you put it together with all the other instances of broken necks during steer wrestling and roping events, it is not so rare.

It is the job of the Professional Cowboys Rodeo Association  (PRCA) who sanctions most of these rodeos to monitor and hold accountable those responsible for acts of egregious animal abuse. Instead, it ignores all complaints and denies all wrongdoing. When faced with real evidence in the form of video showing “jerk downs” occurring at Cheyenne Frontier Days, the PRCA just deny it is happening. It seems that according to the PRCA no one can do any wrong at any rodeo regardless of video evidence to the contrary.

 

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Rodeo Season 2013 Starts Racking Up The Abuse

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(Photo: Reno Rodeo 2013 – Ellie Lopez-Bowlan)

Against all the mind-numbing denials from the rodeo industry a clear voice rings out against the abuse of animals for “entertainment.” Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at University of Colorado, award-winning animal behavior expert and prolific author, Marc Bekoff called for a ban on rodeos after viewing the footage of a horse going into convulsions and dying at Cowtown Rodeo on June 29, 2013. Our SHARK investigator witnessed 9- year old, Duke being electro-shocked out of the bucking chute and seconds later he was dead. The rodeo owner, Grant Harris denied that Duke had been shocked even though he admitted the images did show a person, crouched down, holding an electro-prod next to Duke.

Duke’s death came on the heals of what can only be described as utterly perverted and disgusting behavior by Reno Rodeo personnel caught on tape on June 28, 2013 jabbing a horse in the anus with a rod and electro-prod, as well as using two other electro-prods on him, slapping and pinching him. Obviously, this was done to hurt and aggravate him into moving.  Again, exclamations of shock and horror emerged from rodeo officials and then of course the obligatory denials. I’m starting to wonder if rodeos think that if they lie long enough people will believe them, but how does one question the undeniable proof in pictures. What are you doing then Mr. Stock Contractor pulling up a horse’s tail and messing with its behind? The pictures clearly show you doing something … the explanation of what they were doing never did seem to materialize beyond the same lame denials we see every time an animal is injured, abused and killed at rodeos.  The images of the horse being tortured were captured, not by any animal rights activist, but by long time Reno residents, Ellie and Stephen Lopez-Bowlan. The couple was so horrified at what they saw, they shouted down from their vantage point for the men to stop but were harassed by other rodeo personnel into returning to their seats.  They were so shaken by the ordeal and what they had witnessed they could no longer stomach the rest of the rodeo and left, and who could???

As Reno Rodeo is arguably the kick-off to the rodeo season, the injuries and deaths will start to pile up. The Calgary Stampede, which kills multiple animals yearly (3 horses last year alone) just reported the death of a steer. Zane Hankel, who was apparently so busy twisting its neck he didn’t hear it snap, paralyzed the calf during the steer-wrestling event and then won $6,500 for his efforts.

It is not enough to blame economics and profit as a reason to continue archaic “entertainment” events that exploit animals. Much like bans being implemented on bullfighting in Mexico and Spain, and wild animal circus’ in Bolivia, Colombia, Greece, Austria, and Singapore, we must recognize that animals are not here to be used for our entertainment, and especially not here to be laughed at by an ignorant audience whilst they lie dying.  Rodeo people should be held to the same animal cruelty laws as the rest of us are.

Please sign this petition to support a ban on all rodeos.

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VICTORY! SHARK Shuts Down Cruel Barnyard Scramble

We are pleased to announce that our campaign to shut down the cruel “Barnyard Scramble,” at the Riverdale Rodeo in Riverdale, California, is an unqualified success! This event, where dozens of young animals are thrown into a horde of rampaging children, can be seen in the following SHARK video:


The news of the shut down first appeared in this article, published June 23, 2013, in The Fresno BeeYou can read the entire article here.

The following are excerpts from the article:

”Video of ‘scramble’ at Riverdale Rodeo ignites animal-rights concern.”

“A video posted online by an animal rights group is sparking a modest barrage of concern and complaints over a “barnyard scramble” for children at last month’s Riverdale Rodeo.

In response to the complaints, and the possibility that a state law prohibiting such events might have been broken, rodeo officials will stop conducting scramble events, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman said.

The five-minute video shows rodeo organizers tossing animals out of trailers and containers onto the arena floor before children are turned loose to chase them. Segments show a young boy grabbing a baby duck by one wing before an adult takes the bird by the neck to return it to a box; a boy lugging a baby goat in a bear hug across the dirt; a rabbit frantically squirming in the arms of a little girl; and chickens and ducklings nearly being stepped on by eager children.”

SHARK goes beyond just documenting the cruelty. Once we had the evidence in hand, SHARK Investigator Mike Kobliska researched California law and found out that the scramble itself was illegal.

Sheriff’s spokesman Chris Curtice said the scramble was investigated. “When our detectives contacted Riverdale Rodeo officials about it, they had no idea they were doing anything wrong and agreed to discontinue the event,” Curtice said in an email Friday. “Also, charges are misdemeanors and we cannot cite an entity, (Riverdale Rodeo Association). Right now it appears that educating them worked.”

The final paragraph of the story dealt with the fact that SHARK contacted the Central California SPCA, and they did nothing. Even worse, the SPCA spokeswoman said “we haven’t been provided with any evidence of anything inhumane or illegal with that situation.”

Any reasonable person who watches the video will see cruelty. You’d actually have to work hard to ignore it, yet that is what that SPCA chose to do. That the scramble was shut down without their assistance says a lot about their worth. Let’s hope that supporters of the Central California SPCA send a message that their job is to enforce animal cruelty laws, not shield a local rodeo from the law.

Please politely contact the Central California SPCA and ask them to watch the video again and then file cruelty charges against the Riverdale Rodeo.

http://ccspca.com/contact/

We would also like to recognize and thank two animal sanctuaries who helped enormously in shutting down the scramble. After watching the SHARK video, both the Gentle Blessings Animal Sanctuary and the Red Barn Rabbit Rescue not only provided us with expert opinion on the handling of the animals at the rodeo scrambles but asked their members to call and email those responsible. The Red Barn Rabbit Rescue initiated a petition to the local paper, The Fresno Bee and over 300 emails were generated which culminated in the paper covering the story. Gentle Blessings Animal Sanctuary members were instrumental in helping to shut down the scramble. By working together we can make great changes for the animals!

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Barnyard Scramble or Trample?

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On May 5th, 2013 SHARK attended the Riverdale Rodeo in California and videotaped the “Barnyard Scramble” event. The “Barnyard Scramble” or should I say “Barnyard Trample,” is where a large group of stampeding children are let loose in an arena filled with small, terrified animals. You can imagine the chaos! The children run madly, trampling animals underfoot, roughly grabbing at them and chasing them down. The animals, which includes; baby goats, baby pigs, lambs, baby ducks, chickens, and rabbits, obviously in fear of their lives, run terrified, trying desperately to avoid capture. Some of the smaller animals actually escape the fencing, and into the surrounding countryside, where they have no chance of survival.

This is clearly no fun for the animals or those of us watching that are blessed with an ethical compass. The video, which you can see here, http://www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv=U51T2tUrQNc depicts baby ducks being picked up by their un-formed wings, chickens being kicked, goats and pigs are chased and dragged around by small children unable to carry them properly. The stress on rabbits in particular can be very traumatic. Rabbits are prey animals and as such stress can cause death.  The Gentle Blessings Animal Sanctuary who specialize in rabbit care had this to note about the video, “…rabbits are grabbed by the back of the neck and thrown as well just like the pigs.  This is not a good way to handle a rabbit as it is painful and their backs are not supported.  A rabbit has a very fragile spine which can be broken easily if they do not have their back ends supported, are dropped, or kicked.  A fractured spine is a death sentence as a rabbit will lose function in the rear legs and have to be put down.”

Of course, none of the children intend harm but this is hardly the point. This kind of event is basically telling children it’s OK to treat animals as if they are objects and prizes. The children are taught that the animals are cute “things” to chase after, keep in a box for a few days, and then dump at a shelter or rescue. Shelters who then have to bear the cost of their upkeep and more to the point veterinarian care.  Groups such as The Red Barn Rabbit Rescue know only too well the horrific injuries that can occur after these events having rescued numerous rabbits from animal scrambles. Injuries like broken jaws and dismembered tails, which is a costly burden for a small rescue to cover.  The Gentle Blessings Animal Sanctuary also had this to say about the event, “A small child stepping on a rabbit will end in broken bones, a broken back, perhaps a crushed skull, broken neck, and most likely death or extensive injury and pain.  The same would be true for the birds.” 

I wonder what happens to the other animals that aren’t turned in to a shelter or rescue? What happens when the children tire of them after a day or two and parents can’t be bothered to look after them and can’t be bothered to drive to the nearest shelter?  This kind of irresponsibility is not only cruel to the animals but adds a financial burden on an already taxed animal rescue community. Encouraging and allowing your children to participate in this event is bad parenting at best.

California State law states that, “selling or giving away poultry or rabbits as inducement to enter contest, place of amusement or business” is a misdemeanor – a law that the local SPCA says is not applicable in this circumstance after we brought the video to their attention. “WE” beg to differ! The local DA, whom we also contacted, has handed over our video to the Sheriff to investigate.

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Photos courtesy of Red Barn Rabbit Rescue

Red Barn Rabbit Rescue

www.redbarnrabbitrescue.org

Gentle Blessings Animal Sanctuary

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gentle-Blessings-Animal-Sanctuary/483562725032422

 

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The SHARK Inspired Senate Bills

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It is easy to get disillusioned in the animal protection movement but today I am proud to say that SHARK investigations have prompted not one but THREE senate bills. VA SB1532, inspired by our camera drone being shot at over a live pigeon shoot, seeks to criminalize groups using camera drones to track animal abusing hunters. But recent information coming to light suggests there is more to this bill then meets the eye.  The bill would also protect fox penning, where a wild fox or coyote is put in a pen and then attacked by a pack of hunting dogs for “entertainment.” Virginia Senator Frank M. Ruff who proposed this bill represents Mecklenburg County where five of these despicable clubs operate. http://www.insidegnss.com/node/3457

At last years Big Loop Rodeo, a SHARK video of the horse tripping event went viral and caused such public outrage that both Oregon (SB 790) and Nevada (SB 72) introduced senate bills to ban this horrific cruelty.

Previously in Nevada a horse-tripping ban was killed because rodeo organizers weighed in and opposed it. This year the Reno Rodeo, which doesn’t even allow horse tripping at it’s event, is coming out against the ban. As usual Reno Rodeo is citing all sorts of fear of where this might lead. I’m going to take a wild guess for their sake where it might lead, better protection for horses!!! It’s down right confounding how rodeo people always say how much they love their animals, exclaim in horror at any accusations of animal abuse and yet seem to stand in the way of progress towards better standards of animal welfare. Why would they hurt their animals they are too valuable right? Wrong…the good ol’ cowboy myth is just that, a myth. I never did see John Wayne tripping his horse or shooting it with 5,000 volts of electricity. It seems to me if John Wayne had seen this, the person responsible would have been “dealt with like the coward he is” and the audience would cheer.

If you are wondering where all those shocked, spent, drugged up and broken ex-rodeo horses are going – wonder no more. Oklahoma has the answer! To slaughter they will go! Lifting a 50-year ban on horse slaughter OK Governor, Mary Fallin legalized horse slaughter for food.  Yet another corrupt Governor unconcerned with anything but money and bending to the will of the special interest groups.

Currently in Pennsylvania, Senate Bill 510 was introduced which would effectively end live pigeon shoots. Much to the NRA’s chagrin they just can’t kill this bill permanently as they would like to. It is vitally important that PA state citizens take this seriously and contact their senators in support of this long, long overdue bill. It is criminal that the local law enforcement has deliberately stopped any attempts to bring animal cruelty charges to those involved. The evidence from the SHARK videos is clear and cannot be refuted on any grounds other than by the most corrupt. Click on the link to see our videos of the animal abuse at live pigeon shoots. (http://pashame.com/)

If you live in Nevada please support SB 72:

http://www.leg.state.nv.us/Session/77th2013/Reports/history.cfm?ID=167

If you live in Oregon please support SB 790:

http://www.leg.state.or.us/13reg/measpdf/sb0700.dir/sb0790.intro.pdf

If you live in Pennsylvania please support SB 510

http://legiscan.com/PA/bill/SB510/2013

Governor Mary Fallin signed House Bill 1999 which now allows horse slaughter in Oklahoma. Link to bill:

http://webserver1.lsb.state.ok.us/cf_pdf/2013-14%20FLR/SFLR/HB1999%20SFLR.PDF

If you live in Oklahoma contact the Governor and tell her how opposed you are to horse slaughter, don’t let her get away with this.

https://www.ok.gov/triton/modules/formbuilder/form.php?form_id=2ab143b4bba6b0e9da3235121bf3a7ef73719541e049cc5bcddf8ed1564dac13

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The Cruel Politics of Rodeo

Have you ever wondered why SHARK’s footage of obvious animal cruelty at rodeos doesn’t result in more prosecutions? The Reno Rodeo released a photograph for the press this month that does a great job of shedding some light on this issue.

Reno Rodeo at the Nevada LegislatureImageReno Rodeo Officers, Directors and Past Presidents gather at the Nevada Legislature for Reno Rodeo at the Legislature. (03/06/2013)

Why would the Reno Rodeo folks be hanging out with the politicians? And why would the Reno Rodeo need to sponsor a special day in the Legislature for themselves? And how does all this affect our ability to get rodeos prosecuted for animal cruelty?

Let’s look at the State of Nevada’s Animal Cruelty law for some clues:

Nevada Revised Statutes 574.100: Torturing, overdriving, injuring or abandoning animals.

1.  A person shall not:

Cause, procure or allow an animal to be overdriven, overloaded, tortured, cruelly beaten, or unjustifiably injured, maimed, mutilated or killed or to be deprived of necessary food or drink; 

That sounds like a great law for prosecuting the abuse we film at rodeos until you get down to the exceptions and we find the answer to our questions:

Subsection 9(a). The provisions of this section do not apply with respect to an injury to or the death of an animal that occurs accidentally in the normal course of: (a)  Carrying out the activities of a rodeo

The cruel “Rodeo Exemption” as we call it. I’m sure it cost the Reno Rodeo dearly back when they had to buy enough legislators to get this exception passed so they could beat their rodeo animals to their heart’s content with no worries from law enforcement. I hope the lawmakers didn’t sell out the animals too cheaply.

And that brings us back to the photograph above. To this day, the Reno Rodeo still makes an annual pilgrimage to visit the Nevada State lawmakers and do what they need to do behind closed doors to make sure their Rodeo Exemption isn’t touched and they can still legally abuse all the animals they want at their rodeo with no legal repercussions.

Unfortunately, the Rodeo Exemption is all too common in the big rodeo states. This is one of the reasons we focus so much of our efforts on exposing rodeos to the public and putting pressure on sponsors; the local law enforcement has already been bought and paid for so we have to look elsewhere to try and make change and put an end to animal cruelty at rodeos. With the busy rodeo season getting ready to start, we hope you’ll remember this when we start exposing rodeos this year and we ask you to call and write the sponsors of this legal cruelty. We need your help to make change.

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Do Lawmakers Side With Animal Abusers?

Hot on the trail of the anti-drone bill namely, Virginia State Senate Bill 954 I blogged about a few weeks ago, comes another more insidious bill from ANOTHER republican senator, Chapin Rose of Illinois. Senator Rose has introduced SB1532 (http://bit.ly/YH2dfW) which would amend the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act to the extent the Department of Agriculture can prosecute anyone who, making a complaint under said act is determined to have done so with, “intent to harass the person or entity.”

What is extremely disturbing about this is not only has the Department of Agriculture proven itself in many previous circumstances to be biased towards the animal exploitation industry but one also has to wonder what exactly will determine harassment? I can’t think of one instance where someone has targeted an animal abuser with the intent to just harass them without the desire to stop animal cruelty in one form or another.  Charges of animal abuse are usually corroborated with evidence and/or by a witness account.

The animal rights movement has been the focus of more legislation to silence them recently as greatly improved tactics like undercover investigations gain a foothold in bringing legal prosecutions against animal abusers.

In 2006, a federal law was passed called the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (http://bit.ly/16bLGrc) the most aggressive law so far that targets animal rights activists.  Activists found guilty under this law could face up to twenty years in jail if an industry they are protesting suffers profit loss. Apparently, groups including the Fur Commission USA, the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and various pharmaceutical companies lobbied for the law. In the wake of horrific animal abuse at factory farms being exposed by undercover investigations, we have seen a swathe of ag-gag laws coming into effect. Five states currently have ag-gag laws in place; Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Utah and North Dakota. New Hampshire, Wyoming, Indiana, Nebraska, Arkansas, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have all introduced anti-whistleblower laws this year. Montana and Virginia recently passed anti-camera drone legislation and in all but one of these cases they directly target and criminalize exposing animal abusing industries.

Do lawmakers have any integrity left? What we are witnessing is the horrific treatment and exploitation of a massive number of animals for food, clothes, medicine and entertainment and it is beyond reasoning that when abuse is exposed, lawmakers appear to side with the abusers.

Watch the SHARK video exposing Senator Chapin Rose: http://bit.ly/WamA84

To keep updated on this and other animal cruelty issues please sign up for the SHARK email updates on our website: www.sharkonline.org and like our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sharkonlineorg

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