Bulldogging the Olympic Rodeo

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, January/February 2002:

SALT LAKE CITY–“The Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the
forthcoming Winter Olympic Games was expected to drop the scheduled
February 9-11 Command Performance Rodeo from the Cultural Olympiad
at a January 3 meeting with rodeo foes,” ANIMAL PEOPLE reported in
our December edition, citing coverage from both the Salt Lake
Tribune and the Deseret News, and quoting rodeo protest leader Steve
Hindi, who flew to Salt Lake City in anticipation of the
announcement.


SLOC president Mitt Romney “suggested that if calf-roping is
in, then SLOC is out,” Salt Lake City mayoral spokesperson Joshua
Ewing told Brady Snyder of the Deseret News, but Romney was
apparently blowing smoke, because Hindi et al learned on January 3
that the rodeo was to proceed as planned, with calf-roping included.
That was just the start of a difficult month for Hindi and
SHARK, who kept their promises to SLOC and Romney by meeting the
Olympic Torch Relay in Chicago with the SHARK video van [photo on
page 6] and preceding the relay runners all the way to Salt Lake
City, airing footage of rodeo violence on big screens facing in four
directions, with digital signboards explaining why.
Sharing the driving and frequent alleged harassment from
local police and rodeo fans were SHARK staff member Donna Hertel,
Salt Lake City protest coordinator Colleen Gardner, and volunteer
Don Hein. Hertel and Gardner were in the cab when the truck was
pelted with hard objects, beer, and nail polish in San Luis Obispo,
California.
Unanticipated nasty surprises en route included word on
January 22 that Salt Lake Pro/Am Rodeo promoter Craig Mattice planned
to follow the Command Performance Rodeo with another rodeo, having
leased arena space from the Salt Lake County Equestrian Park & Event
Center for February 10-13.
That was followed on January 29 with the news that Mattel
Inc. is again marketing the “Spanish Barbie” doll dressed as a
bullfighter, which was withdrawn from distribution in 2000 after a
previous SHARK campaign.
While the SHARK truck traveled, Utah Animal Rights Coalition
president Sean Diener on January 14 won reversal of a decision by
Salt Lake City special events coordinator Shawn McDonough to deny the
group permits to protest near Medals Plaza and the Delta Center. On
January 24, Diener also won assurances from the Salt Lake City
Council, city attorney Roger Cutler, and police chief Rick Dinse
that a new ordinance against “wearing masks with intent to commit a
crime” would not be used to prevent anti-rodeo demonstrators from
wearing a Mitt-the-Cow costume or other costumes which might be used
in sidewalk skits, and would also not apply to use of ski masks to
keep warm during anticipated sub-zero temperatures.
The anti-Olympic rodeo efforts of SHARK, UARC, and a
simultaneous campaign by PETA are only loosely coordinated. The most
visible activities by PETA in January were putting up an anti-rodeo
billboard in Salt Lake City, and the January 23 arrest of PETA
member Sean Gifford for creating a disturbance, after he chained
himself to the door of the International Olympic Committee
headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, while wearing a sign saying,
“Don’t Shame the Games–Stop the Olympic Rodeo!”

Other issues

E-mailed Michael Mountain, cofounder of the Best Friends
Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, and the No More Homeless Pets in
Utah coalition, “The word came down from the high mucky-mucks of the
U.S. Olympic Committee. ‘Cease and desist!’ they ordered. What
could Fido and Fluffy have done? Maybe they had failed a drug test.
Perhaps they had been caught placing bets on the giant slalom. In
fact, the Humane Society of Utah had used the forbidden phrase ‘Go
For The Gold” in their promotion of licensed Olympic Pet I.D. tags.
This, we were told, might upset the big sponsors like Coca-Cola.”
SLOC was more usefully engaged in trying to prevent
animal/car collisions on the main roads to the Olympic venues and
trying to avert animal stampedes, anticipated as a possible result
of scheduled fireworks displays.
“Electronic signs along the highway will alert drivers during
the Olympics if animals are seen near the road,” Associated Press
writer Debbie Hummel reported. “The Utah Division of Wildlife
Resources, Department of Transportation, and SLOC may also give
written warnings to Olympic visitors as they pick up rental cars.”
The road conditions were expected to be exceptionally
hazardous because deep snow was causing moose, deer, and elk to
move on ploughed roads, mostly at night, when moose in particular
are notoriously hard to see.
To assess the effects of fireworks on wildlife, Fireworks
West of Logan, Utah, detonated 10 test shots near the Hogle Zoo on
January 4, at request of zoo director Craig Dinsmore. The giraffes,
cheetahs, and bighorn sheep reportedly had the most stressed
responses. Giraffes and cheetahs apparently evolved in the Rocky
Mountains, but vanished about 15,000 years ago, just as bighorn
sheep arrived across the Bering land bridge from Asia. Prong-horns
are the closest relatives of giraffes still in North America;
University of Idaho researcher John A. Byers postulates that they
developed their extraordinary speed to evade cheetahs, since no
living North American predator runs even half as fast.

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