Rodeo Season Update: Injuries and Deaths Pile Up


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.


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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