Animal advocates say bulls, horses abused at county fair

Thursday, August 7, 1997


By John Chase

A bull stands inside the metal rodeo chute at the DuPage County Fairgrounds and starts to sit down.

In seconds, rodeo employees gather around the animal and kick it in the head. A man grabs a long metal hook and quickly pulls it at the bulls face, causing it to jump to its feet.

And the rodeo continues.

That was just one of dozens of images on a 15-minute videotape released Wednesday by animal rights advocates. They say bulls and horses at this year's rodeo at the DuPage County Fair, held last month, were abused.

"This is shocking behavior that must be stopped," said Steve Hindi, president of the Chicago Animal Rights Coalition, which made the tape.

The group, which protests rodeos around the state- including the Wauconda Rodeo for the last four years-said it will be giving a copy of the tape today to the DuPage County State's Attorney, seeking prosecution for animal cruelty.

They also called the DuPage County Fair Association to "eliminate this cruelty forever."

The tape, which Hindi said was made July 26, shows employees of the rodeo organizer, Lazy "C" Rodeo of Jacksonville , IL. using electric prods to force the bulls to perform, kicking and hooking the animals and hitting them with rods, he said.

Though it sounds bad, is that abuse?

Well, it depends upon who is asked.

Thought the owner of Lazy "C", and others haven't seen the tape, they said they're not sure the actions constitute abuse.

"Those bulls will hurt you unless you got some protection. It depends on the situation," Lazy "C" owner Ray Cox said. "I’m not saying my guys did that but we don't hurt our animals."

Lazy "C" has never been cited with any animal abuse charges, according to state Agricultural Department spokesman Pat Hogan.

Hogan said he also hasn't seen the tape but from what was described nothing sounded blatantly illegal.

"I don't condone kicking any animal but most of these abuse charges become a case of the eye of the beholder," Hogan said. "It's just hard to say. These cases are nebulous."

But Hindi said kicking an animal in the face or using an electric prod on its back is never defensible.

"This is abuse, plain and simple. The tape speaks for itself," he said. "You don't have to be an animal advocate to realize that when somebody goes to a non offensive animal and kicks it in the head that it's abuse. If that's not abuse, nothing is."

He noted that using a prod to get a bull to perform is against the rules set by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association in Colorado Springs , Colo.

The 74-year-old Cox said he's been running a rodeo business for 40 years and defends his practices.

Cox said he puts on about 25 shows every summer, and state-licensed veterinarians at every show give his bulls and bucking horses' clean bills of health.

"We can't get them hurt. We got too many shows to do," he said.

Besides, Cox said, "they're better off here than getting their heads cut off for hamburger."

Bob Radkiewicz, president of the fair association, said even thought he has a copy of the videotape he hasn't watched it. But he said Lazy "C" has put on a class rodeo at the fair for roughly the last 20 years.

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