So, dilemma, you guys! My friends and I are planning a trip this summer to Montana. Big sky country, blah blah blah. Everybody — even my fellow vegan boyfriend — wants to go to a rodeo. Rodeos really make me uncomfortable, and before you assume I’m just assuming they’re terrible, I’ve been to rodeos in both Texas and New Jersey. Yes, I know they’re not as bad as bullfights, but I still don’t like the idea of animals being used for “entertainment” purposes. And while perhaps not as many animals die in rodeos, they’re certainly hurt and maimed for the sake of “sport.” As the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals notes, “the rodeo is a cruel form of entertainment that involves the painful, stressful and potentially harmful treatment of livestock—not only in performance, but also in handling and transport.”
And further, the so-called “wild” nature of the animals that are being chased and roped is often manufactured. “Most rodeo events rely on creating a stressful environment for the domesticated and often very docile animals involved. Participants often rely on harsh handling practices to make the animals run faster or buck harder—the rougher the animals appear the more thrilling the event is to the audience.”
And then there’s calf roping, which, ugh. Young calves are chased and then roped at such a speed that many animals endure major fractures, injuries or even broken necks and death.
How bad are rodeos? Many cities have actually, in effect, banned them, by outlawing the use of flank straps. A flank strap is a piece of leather that’s attached to an animal’s abdomen that positions the animal’s body in such a way that it kicks out straighter and higher. They’re used on horses to give a more dramatic “bucking bronco” effect.
How is the potential torture and death of an animal supposed to be “entertaining”?
Do I have it all wrong? Tell me in the comments!