Animal Rights Group Says Ban Will Block Internet Videos of Animal Abuse

ABC 7 - Denver, CO
May 29, 2009

CHEYENNE, Wyo -- Cheyenne Frontier Days has banned video cameras and phones with recording features from all rodeo events, a move that an animal rights group says is an attempt to block more Internet video clips of what it considers animal abuse at the rodeo.

"(CFD officials) have no intention of stopping abuse," said Steve Hindi, president of SHARK, SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness. "They want it to go undocumented."

CFD General Chairman Charlie West said the new camera-use policy reflects today's video environment. Still photography cameras are allowed.

West said that the policy is similar to the ones in place at venues across the nation and the one used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

According to the CFD Web site, the rodeo does not "tolerate, condone or permit actions that abuse animals." At the same time, it adds, animals and humans may be hurt during rodeo events. Injured animals get immediate veterinary attention, are isolated from further harm and are not used again.

Hindi said that while he has nothing against rodeo traditions, events such as steer busting and wild horse races don't represent the traditions of life on the range.

Cowboys often rope steers to catch animals that need medical attention. But the violent jerks that wrench an animal's neck and slam its body to the ground during rodeos are "a perversion of ranch work," Hindi said.

He said that ranchers avoid similar tugs and pulls that could injure or kill a valuable steer.

Hindi said that the wild horse race terrorizes animals as contestants try to saddle and ride an unbroken horse.

Cindy Schonholtz of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association said that organization owns the rights to all commercial video footage from PRCA rodeo events. But local organizers are the ones who decide whether to ban the amateur clips that rodeo fans shoot, she said.

She said that rodeo committees are encouraged to develop their own policies and that PRCA wasn't notified of any changes for CFD.

Hindi said similar attempts to ban video cameras at some California rodoes were unsuccessful.

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