Animals simply do not belong in entertainment. Rodeos and other animal acts are not only cruel to animals, they are dangerous for the human participants and onlookers. This past Sunday, a 12-year-old boy died after a bull stomped on him during the Little Britches Rodeo in Longmont, Colorado. Richard Wayde Hamar was riding a bull when he fell to the ground. The bull continued to flail and crushed the boy’s body. He later died at the hospital. The boy’s death is tragic, but should we really be surprised?
It takes a lot of abuse to get a bull so riled up that he jumps, kicks, and flails. Bulls live a life of constant stress and abuse. They are beaten, starved, and confined in tight pens. Rodeo riders often prod the bull’s testicles with electric shock sticks before mounting them. While the riders make a voluntary decision to risk their safety by participating in a rodeo, the animals have no such choice.
Dr. C.G. Haber is a veterinarian who saw many animals discarded from rodeos and sold for slaughter. He described seeing animals “with 6-8 ribs broken from the spine, and at times puncturing the lungs.” He saw animals with “as much as 2-3 gallons of free blood accumulated under the detached skin” from bruising.
What kind of lessons are kids like Richard learning from the rodeo? Rodeos are nothing but macho displays of human domination over animals. Kids are being taught that is it acceptable to abuse animals for fun.
Rodeos are already outlawed in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Many other European countries have strong restrictions on them. There are some jurisdictions in the United States where animal acts are banned, but not many. Some city governments in my home state of Massachusetts have created legislation that makes using animals in entertainment illegal. I can only hope that this tragic events leads to stricter legislation that protects the animals abused and held captive and the riders who are injured in rodeos.
What do you think? Is there any reason why rodeos should stick around?
photo cred: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rene-germany/