Rodeo contractor is accused of cruelty

Cheryl Madsen
Deseret News 
July 24, 2008

Cotton Rosser has been involved in rodeos for the past 52 years.

He is now the owner of the Flying U Rodeo Co. and the stock contractor that was hired to provide the animals for the Days of '47 rodeos this year. Rosser and his company is now being accused by SHARK (Showing Animals Respect and Kindness) of repeatedly abusing his animals. Colleen Hatfield, SHARK's regional director, accused the company of violating several city and state animal abuse statutes during previous rodeos.

In other states Rosser was allegedly caught using electric prods on the heads of the animals, Hatfield said. However, Hatfield is not only concerned with the treatment of animals in the Flying U Rodeo Co., but with all animals involved in all rodeos.

"A rodeo won't work without torture devices," Hatfield said. Flank straps, cowboy spurs and electric prods are all used to make docile animals act wild, according to Hatfield. She believes that rodeos should be banned altogether. "If you have to shock an animal with 5,000 volts of electricity to get them to buck — or just leave the chute— that is torture and abuse, not how we should celebrate pride in our pioneer heritage," she said.

According to the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the use of prods is prohibited. The only exception is "in the case of a known chute stalling animal, and only if agreed upon by the contestant, the stock contractor and the judge before the contestant's competition begins in the saddle bronc and the bareback riding," according to the PRCA rules.

Rosser said that during the company's stay in Utah, it has not needed to use a prod and will not use one unless it is necessary. He did admit to having used an electric prod on "one or two animals that stall in the chute," at the last rodeo his company was involved with.

Rosser said that he was willing to demonstrate the use of the prod on himself to prove that it is not inhumane and that it is used simply to give the horse encouragement to leave the chute.

The prods are powered by "flashlight batteries with similar stimulation found as an electric livestock or pet fence," according to the PRCA Livestock Welfare Statement.

"We treat the animals like family," Rosser said, "I'm not a bad guy ... I love animals."

SHARK will be out in force with their "Tiger Truck," a large van with 100-inch TV screens, around the EnergySolutions Arena and along the Days of '47 parade route while people are camping Wednesday.

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