Every year, the Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills is contacted by people objecting to rodeo cruelty. Although rodeo activities are promoted as “heritage” or “tradition,” exploiting animals for entertainment and profit is disturbing and nothing to be proud of.
When “breaking” horses, traditionally the goal has been to have horses stop bucking — not antagonize them to buck more. However, rodeos must agitate and provoke horses with spurring and “bucking” or flank straps. Bulls receive the same treatment, yet historically, bulls were never ridden.
Because of mounting distaste for calf roping, the name was changed to “Tie Down Roping.” Panicked, frightened calves still run for their lives before being violently stopped at the end of a rope, thrown to the ground and tied.
Such callous treatment was never practiced on ranches. Any wrangler who so risked injuring calves would probably be fired. Anyone who has been around calves knows that when a gate is opened, it’s rare for a calf to bolt straight out, so one must question why they do it at rodeos.
Sanctioned rodeo rules prohibit abject cruelty, but plenty of evidence shows that clandestine abuse is practiced to make animals “perform”: Tail raking, ear twisting, wire poking, electric shocking, etc. Electronic prodding may be allowed under the guise of safety when there’s a “chute staller.” However, the last thing a frozen-in-fear animal needs is to be shocked.
The connection between animal and human abuse or cruelty is well established. Both are against the law, but legal interpretation differs, especially with rodeos. Many cities and countries now prohibit rodeos — Auburn should do the same.
Marilyn Jasper, president, Humane Society of the Sierra Foothills (HSSF)