KVOA News 4 - Tucson
Feb 25, 2008 

NOTE: See SHARK's video from Tucson and more HERE.

The annual Fiesta de los Vaqueros Rodeo has been a Tucson tradition since 1925.  However, as this year's rodeo wrapped up at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, video has also surfaced from some of the weekend's events.

The video, taken by a national animal's rights group, shows horses in each of the bucking competitions being made to buck with a prod; a prod the rodeo defends using.  Yet, the group 'Showing Animals Respect and Kindness,' also known as 'SHARK,' says it is inhumane.

In an effort to be balanced, News 4 obtained a copy of the video and showed it to the general manager of the Tucson Rodeo.

SHARK says the horses are being shocked with between 4,500 to 6,000 volts of electricity.  The general manager of the Tucson Rodeo contests the high voltage and says the prods are used in very limited circumstances.

Video provided by SHARK shows a different man on several occasions leaning into a horse and prodding it to make it buck.

Steve Hindi took the video. "So they start pumping these horses with very painful electricity, about 5,000 to 6,000 volts is what that device puts out."  Hindi says he wanted to expose what he calls inhumane shocking of horses in the Tucson Rodeo. 

"Everybody who goes into that arena for the rodeo is watching a horse or watching horses that are bucking because we have what are called 'the tools of torture' on them.  You can see from the way they cover up - these guys know that they're doing wrong," reveals Hindi.

"His claim that there's 5,000 volts of electricity in one of those cattle prods is not true," claims Tucson Rodeo's general manager, Gary Williams.

Williams says these prods release more of a "static electricity" type feeling for the horses. 

"I just stick a horse in the back with this [ball point pen].  That would startle them a little and then get them to move."

When we asked, "why not use a ball point pen?"  Williams pauses a moment, then says, "Because, these things were designed for that purpose."

According to a News 4 investigation, websites selling the exact product used in the video assert that the prod releases at least 4,500 volts. 

"This is the most humane way that we've found to move animals," says Williams.

When asked why the men appeared to be hiding what they were doing, Williams claimed that he did not know since the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association does allow the prods to be used under certain circumstances.

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