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We should steer clear of rodeos, writes Carl Scott, volunteer co-ordinator for Safe Dunedin.
The international rodeo is coming to Dunedin. But do we want it?
Rodeos are nothing more than cruel and brutal displays of dominance over animals. There is one important fact, of which there can be no question. The animals suffer.
You have to see it from their point of view. In an environment so alien and unfamiliar to them, they feel nothing but confusion and fear. All they know is that they are being confined in a small chute and then someone jumps on their back. A gate opens and a belt gets tightened across their sensitive flank area causing pain (this is to induce them to buck). They run for their life, kicking and bucking, trying to get that person and that painful belt off. Add some pyrotechnics, bright lights, a loud sound system, and a roaring crowd. They will be utterly terrified! It is not uncommon for rodeo animals to suffer injuries.
Sometimes serious injuries such as fractures. Occasionally, the injured animal has to be euthanised. Terror, stress, pain, and injury, sometimes even death. And for what?
This barbaric spectacle is supposedly "entertainment". Well, the cowboys might be having fun.
The audience might too. But the animals won't be having any fun at all. And that is simply not fair.
If this was being done to cats and dogs, there would be public outcry. If this sort of abuse was being done to humans, there would be public outrage. So why do we accept it when it's being done to horses or cattle?
This is supposed to be a family event.
What sort of message does it send to our children?
That it's fun or "cool" to torment innocent animals?
Gandhi said: "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated."
Perhaps the same can be said for a city.
How do we want to be seen by the rest of New Zealand?
Indeed, how do we want to see ourselves?
Rodeos have been banned in the United Kingdom, some other European countries and many other parts of the world. I know many Dunedin residents would like to see us follow their and Auckland's lead, and ban rodeos from our city.
The only thing in the rodeo's favour is that it will bring some money into the city. But any wealth gained at the expense of animal suffering is surely ill-gotten gain, tainted with abuse and exploitation. Regardless of who benefits or how much, it is unacceptable because it is unfair to the victims.
Even the legality is questionable. The Animal Welfare Act 1999, Section 4 (d), says animals must be handled "in a manner which minimises the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress". Section 4 (e) says they must have "protection from, and rapid diagnosis of, any significant injury or disease".
It is obvious rodeos do not meet these criteria. Instead, the animals are subjected to treatment which deliberately increases levels of pain and distress, to make them "perform". It also increases the likelihood of significant injury.
So if rodeos are clearly in breach of two of the most important principles of the AWA, why are they allowed?
If you are opposed to the rodeo, then first and foremost, don't go! Boycott the rodeo.
Encourage others to do the same. There is also an online petition. You can help get rodeos banned in Dunedin by signing that and sharing it around.
So finally, to the people of Dunedin I would simply say, "Steer clear of the rodeo. It isn't 'entertainment' for the animals."
• Safe is a group which lobbies and campaigns on animal welfare issues.