Men who beat up cattle

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 1996:

Three years after lobbying to defeat
California state bill AB 1660, which would have
required on-site veterinarians at all rodeos, the
Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association has
moved to require on-site vets at all events that it
sanctions––and to bar the use of prods in bull
riding, “without exception,” as well as in other
riding events except with animals known to have
histories of refusing to leave the chutes.
While longtime rodeo critic Eric Mills
of Action for Animals said, “Things are looking
up,” he added that even though “vets were present
at the 1995 California Rodeo in Salinas, in
which five animals died, a roping calf with a
broken back was not euthanized but was simply
trucked off to slaughter, terrified and in pain
[and in apparent violation of the 1994
California Downed Animal Protection Act],
with no pain-killers given, for ‘That would ruin
the meat,’ said the attending vet. After great
public outcry,” Mills noted, “the Salinas Rodeo
Committee’s new policy will require immediate
euthanasia, as well as a ban on the brutal and
unsanctioned wild horse race,” in which a horse
died last July.

PRCA may have been inspired by
ambitions of attracting a more upscale audience––perhaps
more sensitive to animal abuse.
Current demographics show that 60% of PRCA
rodeo-goers have attended college; 29% hold a
degree. Just 7.4% haven’t finished high school.
The stats parallel those of the U.S. as a whole.
Power struggle
PRCA is also struggling to keep control
of pro rodeo. Rodeo cowboys have been organized
under the PRCA since 1936, when it
formed as the Cowboy Turtle Association,
named to symbolize cowboys sticking their
necks out. About 5,000 of the current 6,500
members are rodeo performers, but since the
CTA became the PRCA in 1975, the balance of
power has tipped toward sponsors, contractors,
and organizers, who hold seven of the 11 PCRA
board seats. Disgruntled cowboys seeking insurance,
a retirement plan, and bigger purses tried
unsuccessfully to form a breakaway union in
1989, and began another serious attempt, as the
Professional Rodeo Players Association, last
July. The PRPA got a boost after PRCA chair
Rod Lyman resigned in November, following a
stormy board meeting at which the board allowed
five non-performers to join three performers as
non-voting observers. A task force working to
set up the new union is to make formal recommendations
to membership in January, during
the National Western Rodeo in Denver.
The stakes are high and rising: PRCA
purses in 1994 totaled $23 million, up from
$13.7 million in 1984. But the best-paid rodeo
performer, six-time all-around champion Ty
Murray, earned just $250,000, a pittance by
professional sports standards, and average annual
winnings are circa $2,000.
The rodeo gross is expected to keep
climbing as rodeo moves into the east, capitalizing
on TV exposure. The richest market of all is
expected to form in New York City, where the
well-connected Staten Island Rodeo Association
wants the Parks Department to turn five acres of
undeveloped land into a permanent rodeo arena.
(Friends of Animals asks that protest be directed
to Henry Stern, Commissioner of Parks, c/o The
Arsenal, 850 5th Avenue, New York, NY
10021; fax 212-360-1345.)

1995 was the bloodiest year of bullfighting
since records have been kept by ADDA, the
acronym for the Anti-Bullfighting Campaign
International. Final figures are still being tabulated,
but the number of bullfights in Spain alone
rose from the recent low of 440 in 1986 to 720 in
1994, and apparently jumped again. In Spain,
France, and Portugal combined, the number of
bullfights is believed to be up from the 1994
record of 5,690; counting Latin America, chieflly
Mexico, there were an estimated 10,000 bullfights
last year––almost all attended mainly by tourists.
The bulls won some rounds en route to
their deaths, but critically wounded a friend on
June 26, goring Fight Against Animal Cruelty
president Vicki Moore 11 times in the chest and
legs as she videotaped a bull run in Coria, Spain.
Moore is reportedly recovering slowly but well.
Two days later, bullfighter Jesulin de
Ubrique––known for female fans who shower him
with underwear––was gored in the groin at
Burgos, Spain. On August 21, Japanese bullfighter
Atsuhiro Shimoyama, 24, a former dancer
and gymnast, suffered temporary paralysis after
being butted in the face at Avila, Spain.
The running of the bulls at Pamplona,
begun in 1591, brought the July 13 goring death
of University of Illinois engineering student
Matthew Peter Tassio, 22, who slipped and fell
on the cobblestones. Survivors of other serious
gorings at Pamplona this year included Fred
Kishaba, a Californian who lives in Germany;
Alfonso Sola, 37, a Pamplona resident; an
unidentified 23-year-old American; and an
unidentified 49-year-old Spaniard. Bernard Reich,
18, of Millersville, Maryland, suffered serious
head and neck injuries from being trampled not by
bulls but by fellow bull-runners.
The mayhem was all one-sided from
then until November 25, when seven fighting
bulls escaped from a corral in Aguascalientes,
Mexico, and injured four people, including a
woman who never saw them coming and a policeman
who tried to gun them down. Five bulls were
killed, but two escaped into the countryside and
are believed to remain at large.
Anti-bullfighting activity included a June
17 rally in Madrid, believed to be the biggest
show of opposition to bullfighting in Spain yet; a
postcard protest against televised bullfights and an
unsuccessful effort to repeal the 1991 Spanish law
allowing children to attend bullfights, both coordinated
by ADDA; and the first-ever Latin
American anti-bullfighting conference, hosted by
the World Society for the Protection of Animals in
Mexico City during the first weekend in October.


Print Friendly

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.