SLOC Explores Making Olympic Rodeo More Humane

November 29, 2001

The Salt Lake Tribune


Salt Lake Olympic officials are considering eliminating calf roping from the Olympic rodeo next February and allowing inspectors to monitor activities that go on behind the gates.

Salt Lake Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney met Thursday with members of the Utah Animal Rights Coalition, which is calling for the cancellation of the Olympic Command Performance Rodeo set for Feb. 9-11 at the Davis County Legacy Center.

UARC representatives brought with them a six-member panel of national and international activists who share their concerns, including a veterinarian from Vermont and protest organizers from California, British Columbia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

With 70 days to go until the Games, Romney said it is unlikely he will call off the rodeo, due to contracts and commitments the organizers have made. Rather, he asked for a list of ways organizers can “eliminate or reduce to zero” the risk of injury to animals and riders.

“If we could agree upon an independent or a neutral observer to monitor the movements in chutes and ensure that the PRCA [Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association] guidelines were followed, I would be open to that,” Romney said, adding that SLOC would consider dropping calf roping from the competition. “I’m not going to say that is what is going to happen but I would look at it.”

SLOC has contracted with the PRCA and American Association of Veterinarians to stage the $200,000 event.

Activists say they are familiar with the PRCA guidelines but argue they do not go far enough to protect animals from cruelty.

“I’m sure Mr. Romney took one look at their list of rules and regulations and thought “This is great,” says Steve Hindi of the Illinois-based Showing Animals Respect & Kindness. “The problem is that they are rarely carried out.”

Hindi suggested recording the proceedings with video cameras.

“It will have to be done by someone who knows what to look for,” he said.

“Too often the focus of action is on the animal and the rider and not the guy standing behind the fence with an electric prod tucked up his sleeve.”

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