We need to examine why hurting and frightening animals is entertainment and stop this legalised abuse.
At two rodeos last month I watched as many in the crowd looked on, indifferent, sealed off to the meaning of struggling frightened animals, cheering and whistling as they were defeated and hurt.
Infant calves, chased out of chutes, fleeing at up to 30km/h slammed to an instant halt by a rope that washing-lined them. Some hung vertical, mid-air, before being slammed backwards to earth, the thud audible. Some had their spines buckled. Their torment was not over. Some were slammed to the ground again after getting to their feet, as "cowboys" overpowered them - man against baby animal - kneeling on their rib cage as they cried out.
There's truly nothing entertaining about tormenting and teasing terrified animals.
This rodeo season there are articles trumpeting in local papers around the country what fun was had by all, but these photos from the 2013 Huntly rodeo speak for themselves showing scared, stressed and injured animals.
Say no to the rodeo, and spread the word with your friends and family too! If you see a promotional article in your local paper please write in and speak up on behalf of the animals.
Hamilton City councillors received a hard-hitting message today with a powerful protest from SAFE and local supporters proclaiming ‘Rodeos are animal abuse and your council supports it'. The provocative message highlights the council's support of animal cruelty, with the revelation that the council provided financial support to rodeo organisers.
A huge 6x3 metre billboard was erected directly in front of Hamilton City Council buildings, a day ahead of the international rodeo event. The rodeo event is again being supported by the council in contrast to the action of Auckland City Council, which, in 2008, banned rodeos on council land.
"SAFE received information that not only has the council set a policy that allows cruel events on council land, but they spent ratepayers money on it too, by giving sponsorship to the rodeo in 2011. I'm sure rate-payers don't want to fund animal abuse and SAFE is joining locals today in protesting against this cruelty." says SAFE Campaign manager Mandy Carter.
"Animals in rodeo suffer. Our new footage, shot at last year's Hamilton International Rodeo, shows just how much stress and fear they are experiencing. Animals don't want to perform - they are confused and afraid. It's certainly no fun for them, says Ms Carter. "We hope this public message will make the council think again about their events policy. With the rodeo code of welfare also under review right now, the spotlight is on this issue more than ever and there is the chance this is the last year it happens."
The international rodeo was also held in Dunedin last weekend, although Mayor Dave Cull has indicated sympathy for the animals' cause. SAFE will be talking to Dunedin Council, asking them to join Auckland Council in making a commitment to banning all future events of this type.
SUPPORT A BAN ON THE OUTDATED, CRUEL 'SPORT' OF RODEO
The government is now taking public submissions on the draft Code of Welfare for rodeos, which governs animal welfare standards for animals used in rodeo, and SAFE is calling for a total ban on this brutal 'sport'.
SAFE and the SPCA, New Zealand's two largest animal welfare agencies, plus respected animal advocacy organisations worldwide, oppose the use of animals in rodeos on animal welfare grounds. This disturbing and outdated form of ‘entertainment' subjects animals to fear, stress, risk of injury and death. It must end - make a submission to call for a ban on all rodeo events.
The draft of the Code proposed by the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) suggests minor changes that include shortening rodeo events and technical adjustments to the use of spurs - changes which do not address the continued, legalised animal abuse that routinely takes place in the rodeo.
SAFE believes rodeos are in breach of New Zealand's animal welfare act which states (section 4) that animals should be "physically handled in a manner which minimises the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress". By their very nature rodeos deliberately subject animals to fear, stress and torment.
"The review is ineffectual because there is simply no way to make rodeos humane. Rodeos have no place in New Zealand. It's nothing to do with our traditions. It's time for them to go the same way as other brutal blood sports like bear baiting and cock fighting. A total ban on this cruel practice is the only solution," says campaign manager Mandy Carter.
SAFE will be rejecting the 2012 draft code and will call for a ban on rodeos and challenge NAWAC to provide credible research and evidence to support their proposed standards and practices.
"Although legislative action to reduce the level of injuries to animals used in rodeos is a step forward it does not change the fact that rodeos will always be cruel. We urge the public to take a stand for rodeo animals and make their own submissions calling for a total ban on this cruelty," says Ms Carter. "The other key way to help these animals is, of course, to simply never go to a rodeo."
SAFE is fundamentally opposed to rodeos and other events that subject animals to undue stress and trauma likely to cause injury and suffering. The intent of the Code is to impose minimum standards for the treatment of animals in events such as rodeos. These events are based totally on asserting dominance, coercion, and inherently cruel practices that force animals to 'perform'. SAFE believes this is a total contradiction of the Animal Welfare Act.
SAFE believes the code in 2003 and the draft in 2012 both fail to demonstrate even the most basic provisions of animal welfare.
SAFE has serious concerns regarding the lack of animal welfare considerations and provisions for animal welfare referred to as Minimum Standards and Recommended Best Practices. Although legislative action to reduce the level of injuries to animals used in rodeos is desirable, it does not change the fact that rodeos are inherently cruel. The only response to the suffering of rodeo animals is to ban rodeos completely. No welfare code can alter the inherently cruel and exploitative nature of rodeo events.
Call for ban on rodeos ignored by city council
Despite hearing of all the animal welfare issues associated with rodeos Hamilton council has decided to blatantly ignore the wish of both local residents and animal welfare supporters to ban the rodeo from taking place on public land, putting financial concerns ahead of ethics. The announcement is especially baffling as Hamilton Mayor Hardaker is chairperson of the local SPCA, an organisation strongly opposed to the cruelty of rodeos!
SAFE is disappointed that the ‘international' rodeo event is scheduled to take place in both Hamilton and Dunedin this year - this despite Auckland council banning all rodeos and the councils being aware of the huge animal welfare issues associated with this cruel spectator entertainment.
SAFE asked the council not to allow rodeo events at Claudelands as rodeos abuse animals, but in correspondence the council has told SAFE that they will allow the rodeo back, despite the fact that Auckland council banned rodeos in 2008 and the Hamilton council has already set a precedent for taking the moral ‘high ground' by banning a proposed Erotica expo.
"The International Rodeo is the largest rodeo in the country and includes loud music, fireworks and pyrotechnics, so along with the usual torment, goading and brutal treatment animals endure, they must also contend with fear, stress and anxiety caused by loud noise and bright lights," says Ms Carter.
"Rodeos are merely a cruel display of man's dominance and abuse of animals. These animals are forced to endure needless suffering and gross mistreatment, all for the sake of so-called entertainment. There is simply no excuse".
"Rodeos blatantly disregard our moral obligation towards other living creatures and have a negative impact on our society, particularly on impressionable children. Children attending the rodeo will witness animals being terrorised and ill-treated, seemingly with adult approval. Conditioning children into accepting such violence will have dire consequences for our society in the future, given the strong links between animal and human abuse. Hamilton Council have missed a real opportunity to make a difference," says Ms Carter.
RODEO CRUELTY MOVES TO HAMILTON
SAFE protestors were out in force against the International Rodeo. TV One, 3 News, Radio Live, Newstalk ZB, Waikato Times and YahooNZ aired SAFE's protest. Hamilton's Claudelands Arena was the focus of anti-rodeo campaigners protesting against the International Rodeo. SAFE campaigners staged a colourful protest, with funky 'cows' and 'horses' outside the Arena to highlight the plight of animals in rodeo events. SAFE says it has protested at previous shows held in Christchurch and was disappointed that Hamilton agreed to host this year's event.
"The International Rodeo is the largest rodeo in the country and includes loud music, fireworks and pyrotechnics, so along with the usual torment, goading and brutal treatment animals endure, they must also contend with fear, stress and anxiety caused by loud noise and bright lights," says SAFE campaign manager Mandy Carter.
"Rodeos are merely a cruel display of man's dominance and abuse of animals. These animals are forced to endure needless suffering and gross mistreatment, all for the sake of so-called entertainment," says Ms Carter.
"Rodeo animals are not wild animals, so they would not normally buck, but they are tormented into doing so through the use of flankstraps. The animals are at risk of broken bones, ruptured ligaments, extensive bruising and even death."
SAFE has asked the Hamilton Council not to hold rodeo events at Claudelands - the council responded by saying they were contracted to this event but would look at policy for future events involving animals.
"We urge the Hamilton Council to follow the Auckland Council's initiative by adopting policy prohibiting rodeos from council-owned land," says Ms Carter.
"Rodeos blatantly disregard our moral obligation towards other living creatures and have a negative impact on our society, particularly on impressionable children. Children attending the rodeo will witness animals being terrorised and ill-treated, seemingly with adult approval. Conditioning children into accepting such violence will have dire consequences for our society in the future, given the strong links between animal and human abuse."
SAFE also believes that companies sponsoring the rodeo must take responsibility for the role they play in perpetuating this type of aggressive attitude towards animals.
"They must act immediately by withdrawing from involvement with any future rodeos and adopting a policy of not sponsoring events which cause animals to suffer needlessly," says Ms Carter.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Please write to the Mayor of Hamillton (at email@example.com) asking for her position on rodeo events. Politely ask her how the mistreatment of animals for entertainment fits in with the branding of Hamilton as a cosmopolitan city. Express your serious concern that the welfare of these animals is being compromised, and ask her to promise the city will not support International Rodeo events in the future.
Campbell Live report on the first International Rodeo event in 2007
VICTORY! Congratulations to the Auckland City Council for sticking up for rodeo animals! In a New Zealand first, the Auckland City Council banned rodeos from using council land on animal welfare grounds from 2008.
Former Auckland Mayor Hon. John Banks says: "The gross spectacle of animal torture masquerading as a rodeo would never happen in Auckland," said Mr Banks.