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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About SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness

SHARK's mission is to nonviolently battle animal abuse whenever and wherever possible. SHARK's number one tool is video footage and photographs! And no one does it quite like SHARK. Using hidden cameras, long-range lens, and even night-vision cameras, SHARK leaves no place for animal abusers to hide. SHARK's award-winning video footage and photos are supplied to local, national and international media, lawmakers, the general public, courts and other animal advocacy organizations. Instead of simply saying animal cruelty is bad, SHARK gets the documentation and presents it to the world so they can see it and decide for themselves.
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