Op-Ed: Buck Off, Rodeos

Rachel Hammond, Staff Writer

Rodeos have been a tradition of Western culture for decades. There are several main events to a rodeo, such as bull riding and calf roping. 

But do you know the cruelty behind rodeos? While it may look like a lot of fun to ride a bucking bull or bronc, these animals are severely abused behind the scenes.

Bulls and horses are often given steroids to make them aggressive. Not only this, but in order to get the animals to “buck,” they are electrocuted with high voltage “hot shots.” This causes the animal to run out of their holding pen and attempt to free themselves.

Severe bucking causes injuries to animals. Most bucking animals are made to worn bucking straps, which irritates the animal’s flank (rear underbelly). Horses and cows that have these straps placed on them become so desperate to remove the irritant, they buck in order to rid themselves of it. The pain used to induce bucking may cause the animals to run into fences or posts.

There is also a rodeo tradition of calf roping. This is one of the most horrendous rodeo acts. Like other show animals, calves are electrocuted in their holding “chutes” as well as have their tails painfully twisted in order to rile them up. 

When they are finally released into view of the crowd, the terrified baby cow runs, and a rope is caught around their necks. This forcefully pulls them back and they are tied at the legs. 

According to The Odyssey Online, “During this performance, calves may cry out (if they can breathe), defecate from fear and stress, and suffer neck injuries and death.”

As a rodeo winds down, animals are shipped off to their next event, where they relive this nightmare situation all over again. Some animals may even fight in transit, causing further injuries. When an animal is deemed unfit to perform, they are sent to the slaughterhouse. 

Dr. C.G. Haber, a veterinarian who spent 30 years as a meat inspector, saw animals from rodeos sold to the slaughterhouses he inspected. He described seeing animals “with six to eight ribs broken from the spine and, at times, puncturing the lungs.”

How does any of this seem fun or entertaining? Imagine for a moment if rodeos used cats or dogs for their abuse. Puppy-roping would be shut down in the blink of an eye.

What can you do to stop these events? PETA’s website has several suggestions: “If a rodeo comes to your town, contact local authorities, write letters to sponsors, leaflet at the gate, or hold a demonstration. Contact PETA for help.”

There is a rodeo in Bloomingdale Friday Sept. 27 and Saturday Sept. 28. If you are interested in protesting this event, please contact Rachel Hammond at rh16112@georgiasouthern.edu.