The suffering of animals is inherent in rodeo. Horses, bulls, steers and calves are scared, stressed and risk injury and death, as they are ridden, roped and wrestled aggressively as part of the 'entertainment'.
The use of baby animals is of particular concern. In calf roping, the young animal is forced to burst out of a chute to run at top speed chased by a rider on horseback. The calf is dragged to a halt with a choking rope around the neck, thrown to the ground and has three legs tied together, all as quickly as possible.
These young animals are also ridden by children and are forced to buck with the use of a tight so-called 'flank strap'. Calf riding not only subjects these baby animals to stress, especially those whose front legs collapse under the child's weight, but also puts young people in a dangerous situation.
The NZ Animal Welfare Act calls for animals to be handled in a way that minimises the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress. Rodeo, by its very nature, contravenes the spirit of the law and shames us as a nation.
Following repeated outrage when the cruelty in rodeo is exposed in the media, people have spoken out in their thousands, including animal welfare experts and those who signed a petition with 62,000 signatures, while polling shows the majority support an end to rodeo. However, a Parliamentary Committee decided to ignore the suffering inflicted on animals.
In October 2018, the animal welfare committee NAWAC submitted a review of certain rodeo practices, in which they concluded that rope and tie and steer wrestling events have “substantial negative impacts” for the animals, yet didn’t recommend banning them. This lack of conviction to implement any meaningful change is extremely disappointing and falls short of what the majority of New Zealanders want to see from this Government.
Each time a rodeo is staged, animals are put at risk. A bull was killed after his leg was broken last season, and a horse has been killed this season, purely for the entertainment of a minority.
Email Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Minister of Agriculture Damien O'Connor and animal welfare committee, NAWAC, urging them to end all rodeo cruelty.
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