Animal rights activist wins round in effort to end rodeo animal abuse

Wednesday, October 11, 2000

Daily Herald (Suburban Chicago)

By Tona Kunz
Daily Herald Staff Writer

Bull riders will be under closer scrutiny next year, now that the Kane County Board has agreed to look into allegations of animal abuse at the fair's rodeo.

The decision was a coup for Geneva resident and animal rights activist Steve Hindi, who has been asking the county to look into the issue for two years now, ever since he shocked himself with a 5,000-volt prod at a board meeting to prove it how much it hurts.

As a member of the activist group, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness, Hindi asked the board for help once again Tuesday.

"We would like to have a committee to research rodeo," he said. "I think that is a fair and reasonable request."

County Board Chairman Mike McCoy agreed to a point, saying he would have the public safety committee look into charges of abuse rather than create a separate committee as was done for leaf burning.

It is unclear what the decision will do for Hindi's cause other than give it the trappings of legitimacy.

McCoy said in 1998 when Hindi started protesting the rodeo at the Kane County Fairgrounds that the county board had no control over what goes on there. The fairground falls within St. Charles' city limits, making a county anti-cruelty law unenforceable there. Hindi's request for St. Charles to enact a similar law was denied.

Hindi and his fellow activists have protested against rodeos in Kane, DuPage and Lake Counties, claiming the prods, used to move the animals, and jolts and bindings used to make the animals buck violate the state's anti-cruelty laws.

Rodeo operators and many farmers say the prods are traditional methods of moving the animal and their thick hides prevent the same type of injury that would befall a man.

The one-time big game hunter's other animal rights causes include protests against deer culling at Fermi National Laboratory, a boxing kangaroo at the fairgrounds and Pepsi's sponsorship of bullfights in Mexico and Spain.

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