Rodeo planned; animal abuse charged

Police fund-raiser: Activist's claims denied

Friday, September 18, 1998

The News Sun (Waukegan, IL)

By Judith Raibley

A fund-raising rodeo to be held by the Gurnee Fraternal Order of Police tonight and Saturday at the Lake County Fairgrounds is raising the ire of ever-vigilant animal rights activists.

What used to be an annual event sponsored by the Lake County Sheriff's Lodge is back after a year's hiatus with all the usual cowboy stunts like calf-roping and bull riding and bronco busting.

But Steve Hindi of the Chicago Animal Rights Coalition is accusing Barnes Rodeo Company, which provides and handles the stock for the event, of animal abuse.

Hindi said he has footage of a recent Barnes-run rodeo in Minnesota, which reveals Barnes employees shocking animals with electric prods while they were in the chutes – a direct violation of rules set out by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association.

Hindi claims the tape also reveals handlers roughly grabbing horses by the nostrils and of ripping at their manes, in an attempt to get them riled and mad for bronc busting events.

During a rodeo held at the fairgrounds in 1994, Hindi said Barnes covered up the death of a steer that broke its neck during an event.

"This rodeo is a rodeo that – when something goes wrong – will lie, will cover up," Hindi said in a telephone interview from his office Thursday.

But Ken Heerdegen of the Gurnee FOP, who helped organize the event, said Hindi is manufacturing the alleged abuse.

"No steer died at the rodeo or any other rodeo," he said. "Everything is open. The animal pens can be seen by all. My lodge would not be involved in anything we thought was even remotely cruel or abusive."

Hindi, who is angry that video cameras will not be allowed into the Lake County rodeo, said Heerdegen refused to view the Minnesota tape.

Barnes Rodeo could not be reached for comment.

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