Animal rights activist prods Kane Board on rodeo concerns

Fair approaches: The county might not have time to pass an anti-cruelty ordinance

Wednesday, June 10, 1998

The Beacon News (Aurora, IL)

By Ann Donahue

Geneva – Steve Hindi thought he could shock some sense into the Kane County Board Tuesday.

But despite Hindi's efforts, the president of the Chicago Animal Rights Coalition, it appears the rodeo at this year's Kane County Fair will go on as scheduled.

In a presentation before the Kane County Board, Hindi apparently shocked himself – twice – with what he said was an electric cattle prod frequently used in rodeos.

"These are used for torture," he said. "There's no bruises, no broken bones – just pain."

Last month, Hindi asked the Kane County Executive Committee to draft an ordinance that would prevent "rodeo cruelty" at the Kane County Fair in July. Hindi's rationale is that all rodeos are inherently cruel and such an ordinance would prevent them from being held.

But an animal cruelty ordinance will have to be put on a fast track if it is to take effect by this year's Kane County Fair.

Under the fastest possible circumstances, the ordinance could be drafted and discussed by the county's Public Safety Committee, which meets July 7. It would then have to be approved by the full Kane County Board, which next convenes on July 14 – the first day of the fair.

No authority

The board doesn't have the authority to out and out ban the rodeo, said County Board Chairman Mike McCoy.

"We as Kane County government have nothing to do with the Kane County Fair," he said, adding he has asked the State's Attorney's office to look into the legal technicalities of the subject.

Final decisions on who performs at the fair are made by the Kane County Fair Board, McCoy said.

But if a county passes an ordinance, the performers at the fair are still bound by the constraints of the law, according to board member Cathy Hurlbut, R-Elgin.

After he spoke to the Executive Committee last month, Hindi distributed videotapes to all the Kane County Board members which show what he alleges to be mistreatment of animas at rodeo across the country.

Two rodeo officials disputed these claims Tuesday.

Larry Kilduff, a member of the sport's sanctioning board, the International Professional Rodeo Association, said that Hindi's videos show rodeo "in the most unflattering light possible."

"Cattle prods are used every day," he said. "They are the most humane way available to move animals."

Twice during his speech to the board, Hindi took a fist-size object with several prongs and placed it on his left forearm.

"This device hurts," he warned. "It won't make you bleed. It won't kill you."

Hindi then reacted as though he had been shocked by the device. There was no sound or smell. Hindi bent over double and jumped backwards a foot, and then continued his presentation.

"It's very painful – more painful to a cow than it is to us," he said.

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