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SPCA calls for an end to rodeo

Monday, 27 July, 2015

2015 Rodeo RNZSPCA banner

Animal advocacy organisations SAFE, SPCA and Farmwatch have joined forces in a coalition calling for a ban on rodeo, saying it is both unethical and inherently cruel. Concerned Kiwis are urged to show their opposition by signing the petition at change.org to end rodeo cruelty for good.

The coalition announcement comes after the New Zealand Rodeo Cowboys Association held its AGM on the 25 July and announced dates for the 2015/2016 rodeo season.

The animal organisations say that in a rodeo animals are routinely grabbed, chased, wrestled and roped in aggressive displays and that they can sustain painful injuries such as fractures and bruising, as well as suffering severe stress and fear. Horses and bulls are forced to buck, and young calves roped and thrown to the ground. Two bulls died at rodeos during the 2014/2015 season.

Late last year the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) stated that they continue to have reservations about the performance of rodeos.

SAFE’s head of campaigns Mandy Carter says “The Animal Welfare Act requires that animals are not subjected to unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress. Causing animals to suffer for entertainment is both unreasonable and unnecessary. Rodeos are in total contradiction to the requirements of our law. It is only logical and right that rodeos come to an end.”

In 2014 campaigners celebrated the closure of the Huntly Rodeo after an investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries found that animals had been mistreated. “The rodeo organisers admitted that they could not guarantee the safety of the animals at future rodeos and decided to close down rather than risk a $50,000 fine or three months in jail,” says Ms Carter.

The petition to the Government comes after new footage from New Zealand rodeos showed terrified animals suffering additional fear and distress after being prodded, slapped in the face, having their tail twisted, and collapsing from extreme stress.

John Darroch for Farmwatch says "Over the summer of 2014/2015 we filmed a number of rodeos across the North Island. At every rodeo we observed animals who were in a clear state of fear and distress being forced to participate in the events. We witnessed them being punched, kicked and otherwise injured for entertainment. This torment is made worse by the fact that these animals are transported all over the country, adding to the trauma they endure."

SPCA New Zealand CEO Ric Odom says “The SPCA is completely opposed to rodeos and would like to see them banned. Rodeos can be a terrifying and cruel experience for animals, yet in New Zealand this is currently completely legal. At SPCA we believe no animal should endure such cruelty, especially simply for the entertainment of people.”

“Rodeos are inhumane and are not in the best interests of the animals. They serve no useful purpose and are purely for human entertainment. If given a choice, animals would prefer not to participate, yet humans force them to do this against their will purely for our entertainment. We are now calling for the government of New Zealand to ban rodeos.”

Condemned by vets, welfare experts and animal protection organisations worldwide, rodeos are partially banned in Britain, other parts of Europe and areas of the US and Australia. Other countries prohibit certain events such as calf roping. In New Zealand rodeos are banned from Auckland Council land and SAFE, SPCA and Farmwatch say it is time the rest of New Zealand followed suit.

SAFE, the SPCA and Farmwatch are urging New Zealanders to join them in the fight to stop the abuse of animals for entertainment by signing the petition.

***Download paper petitions***
The government is becoming increasingly sceptical about online petitions, paper petitions carry more weight than online. So if you’re in New Zealand, download the paper petition to print out and ask your friends, family and colleagues to support the ban on rodeos by signing the petition. Once you have as many signatures as possible, please return the paper petition by mail to the SPCA at the address on the form.