Animal abuse alleged at Tucson Rodeo

By Dale Quinn
Arizona Daily Star
Tucson, Arizona | Published: 02.25.2008

An Illinois-based animal-rights organization is claiming that horses at this year’s Fiesta de Los Vaqueros were treated with unnecessary cruelty.

An agency called SHARK, or Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, has filed a complaint Monday morning with the animal services division in Arizona’s Department of Agriculture because horses were shocked during the rodeo, said Janet Enoch, a SHARK investigator.

Steve Hindi, SHARK’s president and founder, said he took video footage of horses being shocked with a prod that can deliver what he described as much 6,000 volts of painful electricity.

In a video posted on the video sharing Web site YouTube.com, men can be seen pressing a black device against the hide of horses once a rider is on top of them and the stall’s gate swings open.

Hindi said shocking the horses with such a prod is a painful and cruel way to get the animals to buck. He said his organization isn’t opposed to rodeos, but it does work to make sure animals aren’t treated cruelly when they take place.

Gary Williams, the General Manager of the Tucson Rodeo, said animals aren’t treated cruelly at La Fiesta de los Vaqueros and it’s important to remember that a horse’s hide is much thicker than a human’s.

Hindi has attacked many rodeos in the past, Williams said.

“It’s pretty typical of Steve Hindi and his efforts at discrediting rodeos,” he said.

Delivering a shock can be a humane way to get livestock to move from one place to another, Williams said. The handlers of the horses deliver the shock to get them out of a stall when the gate opens so they don’t start bucking early, which could injure the horse or its rider, he said.

Beutler & Son Rodeo Co., based in Elk City, Okla., owns the animals used in the Tucson Rodeo, Williams said. The owners of the animals aren’t going to mistreat them because animals that have been abused don’t perform well in rodeos, he said.

Williams said there have never been allegations of cruelty at the Tucson Rodeo in the past. Hindi said this is the first time SHARK has investigated the Tucson Rodeo. The organzition has a small number of people working for it and there are many rodeos that its employees investigate, Hindi said.

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