Animal-rights group protests rodeo

Coalition says animals were abused during Wauconda event

Daily Herald
Friday, July 17, 1998

by Chris Heidenrich
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Spectators had a good time at last weekend's Wauconda Rodeo, but it wasn't fun for some of the animals that helped put on the show, an animal-rights group said Thursday.

The Chicago Animal Rights Coalition showed video footage and photos of flank injuries and animals limping-evidence the group believes proves animals were abused at the 35th annual event, run by the Wauconda Chamber of Commerce.

"These animals are getting beat up constantly," spokesman Greg Campbell of Barrington said, echoing the belief the group has held since it began protesting the event six years ago. "These animals are just tools of the trade."

A spokesperson for the company that produces the rodeo said a livestock report filed by two International Professional Rodeo Association judges listed no injuries. A humane investigator for the association, which sanctions the rodeo, said she hasn't seen the video, but that flank irritations are minor.

"There were no problems," said Thyrl Latting of Latting Rodeo Productions of Robbins, Ill. "These are valuable animals."

The animal-rights coalition's 10-minute video was filmed by cameras placed atop 20-foot painting poles outside the grounds. It shows three horses with irritations on their flanks, two horses and a calf limping, a calf buckling after being roped from behind instead of in front, and a livestock trailer with feces and urine covering its floor.

The video also shows steer-wrestling to illustrate the group's belief the event features an animal fighting with a human, which violates the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act.

The coalition believes the flank irritations-which on the video and in the photos looked like red, open sores-were caused by flank straps placed on horses during events requiring them to buck.

The group will submit the video to Lake County State's Attorney Michael Waller because it believes the footage shows violations of the state act.

Latting said the flank irritations are burns, not wounds, as the group calls them. They are similar to human skin being rubbed raw when a person wears a new pair of shoes, he said.

The burns are common because of the texture of animal skin, but the flank straps are lined with sheepskin to minimize the problem, Latting said.

Regardless, Latting said, the horses are only used once per rodeo, and if they have flank irritations they are not used at any rodeo until the irritation heals.

Sheila Lehrke, the humane investigator for the rodeo association, said such irritations are "not supposed to happen," and she was surprised to hear of three separate instances.

However, she said, they are so minor, they probably won't even show up on the livestock report the IPR requires from all its rodeos. The flank strap is not necessarily the cause, Lehrke said. Other causes include dust or dirt getting caught between strap and skin, a mosquito bite further irritated by the strap, or the strap being removed improperly, she added.

AS for the limping animals, it's not clear on the video how the two horses were injured, if at all, but the calf appears to be limping after participating in calf-roping. Latting said the livestock report, filled out by the two IPRA judges, shows no leg injuries.

Regarding the trailer with animal waste on the floor, Latting said he wasn't aware of it. He said trailers are cleaned after every trip, about once a week, and sawdust is placed on the floor to absorb moisture.

Animals don't produce enough manure on one trip for it to be a problem, he said.

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