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Mid-Northern rodeo animal handler guilty of animal cruelty

June 1st, 2017

SAFE welcomes the news that an animal handler at the Mid Northern Rodeo  has been formally warned for cruelty by the Ministry for Primary  Industries (MPI) but says it is not enough. Charges were laid over  evidence compiled by volunteer investigators from Anti-Rodeo Action NZ  at the rodeo, in January 2017, showing young calves being shocked with  an electric prod – cruelty which is prohibited under the Rodeos Code of  Welfare – as well as inflicting painful electric shocks on older cattle,  deemed unnecessary and unreasonable, which contravenes Section 29(a) of  the Animal Welfare Act.

“At every single rodeo we see abuse of the most vulnerable of animals,”  says SAFE campaigns director Mandy Carter. “In calf roping, weeks old  calves are forced to endure being chased, wrenched off their feet by  ropes, slammed to the ground, then have their legs roughly tied  together. Even worse, at the Mid Northern Rodeo they were goaded with  painful electric shocks before even entering the arena. This kind of  treatment of those who most need our protection cannot be allowed to  continue. MPI must take urgent action to prohibit rodeo events, starting  with calf roping.”

In 2014, three formal warnings under the Rodeos Code of Welfare led to  the closure of Huntly Rodeo, after rodeo officials stated they could not  guarantee the safety of the animals at future events. In November 2016,  MPI confirmed that seven rodeos were in breach of the Rodeos Code of  Welfare in the 2014/15 season, with numerous breaches in the following  season. MPI are still investigating complaints from the 2016/17 season.

The latest footage on which the formal MPI warning to the Mid Northern  Rodeo animal handler was based, shocked New Zealanders. It includes  young calves being shocked with an electric prod while confined in a  ‘chute’, (an enclosed area used prior to the animal being forced out  into the arena), unable to escape, which led to the warning by MPI as a  contravention of the Rodeos Code of Welfare.

Further rough treatment of animals was also filmed:

•    A young calf being roughly flipped in mid-air and slammed to the  ground as he was hooked around his hooves by a lasso during a calf  roping event

•    A bull crawling on his knees, in a desperate attempt to get away from rodeo performers

•    Horses slipping and falling

•    A rodeo performer roughly wrenching a calf’s leg and body in his attempt to tie the animal’s legs together

•    A horse frantically jumping up at a fence, attempting to escape  from the pen where the animals are confined before entering the arena

Exposure of this footage led to a number of sponsors dropping their  support of the rodeo after being contacted by SAFE and members of the  public, including LJ Hooker, Harcourts and Ray White.

“Rather than MPI relying on volunteer investigators to film and report  cruelty to animals, we need urgent action to stop it happening in the  first place,” says Ms Carter. “The only way these animals will properly  be protected is if rodeo is declared history. Rodeo is inherently cruel.  It’s clear that people involved with rodeo are simply unable to even  uphold the most meagre animal welfare regulations, so there is no  alternative to a ban.”

Animal suffering at rodeo events seems to be condoned by the New Zealand  government after a select committee last year chose to put no  restrictions on rodeo practices. This flies in the face of strong public  opinion calling for an end to this bullying of animals, evidenced by  the 62,000 people who signed a petition for a rodeo ban.

“Animals suffer for the entertainment of a minority,” says Ms Carter.  “History shows that eventually these activities won’t be tolerated by  society. The repeated breaches of the Rodeos Code of Welfare, and this  most recent warning show that the regulations fall well short in  protecting animals. The only real solution is a rodeo ban, with an  immediate end to calf roping being a top priority.”

 

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