Mistreatment of Kane rodeo's bulls alleged

July 24, 2001

The Chicago Tribune

By William Presecky

St. Charles confirmed Monday they were investigation allegations that rodeo workers used electronic prods on bulls at the Kane County Fair over the weekend in violation of the city code.

City code enforcement officer Robert Surratt said investigators were examining about a dozen photographs that animal rights activist Steve Hindi said were taken at the fairgrounds in St. Charles. The photos allegedly depict bulls in chutes being prodded by rodeo personnel.

Surratt said he and a police investigator were reviewing the non-criminal complaint filed by Hindi and his Kane County-based advocacy group, SHARK, or Showing Animals Respect and Kindness. Surratt said he planned to conduct interviews and complete the investigation within a few days.

In addition to requiring that a licensed veterinarian be on the premises during all rodeo events, the recently changed city code limits the use of electric shock to situation s in which a rodeo animal requires prodding to prevent it from injuring a contestant or the public.

Conviction of a St. Charles city code violation can carry a fine of up to $500.

Hindi alleges that several rodeo bulls were prodded by electric shock while in their chutes preparing to perform at the fairgrounds Saturday afternoon.

The rodeo is a popular, one-day feature of the fair, which concluded a six-day run Sunday.

Fair officials declined to comment on Hindi's latest claims.

Hindi of Plano has protested against alleged animal abuse and lodged similar complaints against rodeo elsewhere in the state in recent years.

He said he plans to attend an Aug. 20 meeting of the St. Charles City Council to press for more enforcement of city ordinances protecting animals.

Hindi said he will urge city officials to tighten the animal cruelty ordinances based on what he alleged Monday was repeated and flagrant abuse of the code provision on the use of electric shock on rodeo animals.

Norm Skala, co-chairman of the fair's rodeo committee and the announcer at Saturday's event, said he didn't see any evidence of what he called "hot shots."

"I'm not aware of it," said Skala.

"They've got a rule in rodeo that you can only use a prod to get them into a chute, and once in the chute you don't use it. I wasn't aware of any being used," said Skala, who describes himself as a third-generation cowboy.

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