July 13, 2013 

(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. Today, Calgary reported the death of a horse.

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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