Regardless of Reno Rodeo’s attempts to discourage animal cruelty, a recent video shows some cowboys still use shocking as a means of coercing animals to perform.
Rodeo spokesman Steve Schroeder says the monitoring and installation of cameras linked to a computer DVR recorder were implemented after an animal advocacy group released a video in 2011. Although these measures were intended to safeguard against such actions, video footage from this year proves the problem to be persistent.
Although the rodeo itself didn’t notice any instances of animal cruelty, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK) recently released nine clips to various media outlets. According to animal rights forum Mostly Dogs, the clips show someone “clandestinely shocking horses as they’re released.”
Schroeder commented that the rodeo certainly didn’t approve of the actions, and also remarked on the offender’s attempts to stay out of the camera’s eye. Additionally, he mentioned some participants were found tampering with the camera equipment. Schroeder has exiled the offending cowboy, reportedly employed by livestock subcontractor Big Bend/Flying Five Rodeo Co., although he refused to reveal his identity.
Officially, the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Association (PRCA) allows for shocks, which some say necessarily supersedes the Reno Rodeo’s stance against their use. However, regardless of the PRCA’s ruling, Schroeder says that in an outstanding majority of the clips “the horses were not in a situation where a shock would’ve been called for.” Schroeder has forwarded the video footage to the PRCA, who will perform an investigation into the animals’ abuse.
SHARK member Stuart Chaifetz commented that the intention to disguise the shocking livestock contractors knew was against Reno Rodeo regulations only “destroys the myth that the horses are athletes who want to do it. Literally these animals have to be tortured to get them to perform, and that is animal cruelty pure and simple.” Citing a recent rodeo in New Jersey as an example, Chaifetz claims that without physical coercion, many of the animals would not perform. Chaifetz asserts, “If it weren’t for SHARK, they’d say ‘We had a cruelty-free rodeo.’ If it wasn’t for an activist group holding a camera, they would have gotten away with it.”
SHARK videos also show a recently outlawed technique known as a “jerk down,” which can severely injure calves, being employed in at least two instances—one of which proved fatal to the calf in question. The PRCA defines a “jerk down” as occurring when “a contestant jerks a calf over backwards in tie-down roping.” PRCA representatives claim the rule has been enforced all year but cannot entirely prevent these unfortunate instances.
The Reno Rodeo broke attendance records with a staggering 150,000 people through the gate and 80,000 in the arena throughout the 10-day event. Schroeder says, “Rodeos are upward of a $200 million economic industry in Nevada. That’s a significant economic impact. There’s nothing wrong with the rodeo if the contestants are treating the sport like they should. It is a wonderful experience for fans to see sport from the Western way of life.”