Davis skeptical about observers

Monitors would ensure no cruelty to animals at rodeo

Saturday, December 1, 2001

The Standard-Examiner (Ogden, UT)

By Bryon Saxton

FARMINGTON – Having independent observers looking over the shoulders of Davis Olympic rodeo sponsors is a concept that is new to county officials.

On Thursday, alt Lake Organizing Committee president Mitt Romney agreed to consider a request by national and local animal rights groups to have independent observers serve as monitors to ensure there is no form of animal cruelty at the Olympic Command Performance Rodeo.

The Observers would likely be veterinarians that meet with the approval of anti- and pro-rodeo people alike.

Despite continue efforts by animal rights groups to cancel the event, the rodeo is set for Feb. 9-11 at the Legacy Center in west Farmington.

SLOC leaders also agreed to consider a request by the groups of possibly eliminating the calf-roping competition for the event.

On Friday, Davis officials reacted.

Davis FairPark manager Jody Gray said she has issues with the request being made by animal rights groups, but she stressed the final decision rests with the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the even sponsor.

"Everyone must have a ticket. How will that happen?" Is Mitt (Romney) going to buy them tickets?" Gray said of the observers.

"Maybe SLOC will buy their tickets," she said.

Gray said whatever SLOC requests of the event, it will be between SLOC and the PRCA.

"I don't see it happening. But I don't know," Gray said. "That is totally up to the PRCA."

PRCA communications director Steve R. Fleming said the PRCA, based out of Colorado Springs, Colo., cannot comment on the matter until hearing from SLOC representatives.

"We haven't heard a thing from SLOC yet," he said.

PRCA officials, however, were aware of the meeting between Romney and the animal rights groups.

Should supporters or sympathizers of animal rights groups attend the rodeo as observers, Gray said, if would be first. "It's never been done here," she said.

Besides, the majority of the contestants to compete in the case-roping contest have already qualified, she said.

Gray said the one good thing that has come from all the controversy swirling around the Davis rodeo is that the protest by the animal rights activists has given the rodeo a lot of media attention, resulting in increased ticket sales.