We all thought it’d be much worse. Protesting a bull-riding event at the rodeo, we figured we were gonna get spit on and shouted at. I expected I’d at least get something thrown at me. My mom simply said sadly, “Well, I hope you don’t get beat-up, is all.”
It was a beautiful day on the ferry over to Bremerton. Outside the entrance to the Xtreme Bulls event at the Kitsap Rodeo, a couple of cops came over to us: “Hi–how many of you are coming today? Just you three? Well, we heard you were coming today, so thought we’d come over and say hi. If you need anything, or if anybody gives you a hard time, we’ll be right over there.”
Rachel got out her sign saying, “www.rodeocruelty.com,” I held one with “Don’t Support Animal Cruelty,” and Patty worked her crowd magic calling out, “Free Rodeo Reality FLY-errrrrrs! Get yer free FLYYY-errrrrrs!” Though it did rain hard on us, and most people who passed by chuckled or mumbled something to themselves, without a doubt every single person who attended the bull-riding contest that day saw us and read our signs exhorting them to think about the animals they were about to see. Even if all we did was plant little seeds of doubt in people’s minds about the “entertainment” they came to see that day, then we were successful in bringing attention to animal suffering.
There were some gems for comments, though:
A tall lanky guy in a cowboy hat makes a beeline for us before his girlfriend steers him away. He blurts out, “You’re missin’ the f-’n point!” (Rachel leans over and mutters to me, “Yeah, I guess we are, buddy.”)
A dad says to his 2-year-old daughter who he’s pushing along in a stroller, “Let’s support animal cruelty, Sally! Yes, let’s go watch some animal cruelty.” (What must his daughter think of this?)
Some young kids slouch by and one yells out, “Go back to Woodstock, if you can’t kill anything, ya HIPPIES!” (Rachel couldn’t stop laughing at this one.)
Truth is, the huge size and fierce appearance of a bull does not make him impervious to pain. Bulls receive the worst abuse from electric shocking in rodeos. Cattle are particularly sensitive to electricity, and rodeo animal abusers use that to their advantage to make calm, docile bulls appear to be wild killers.
If these supposedly “mean” animals were “born to buck,” they wouldn’t have tormenting straps tightened around their flanks, or get blasted with 5,000 volts of electricity from a Power-Mite electric prod to a confined bull. In rodeos the prods are often used on animals in pens who are unable to move or even turn around. The rodeo people use the pain of the prod to force the animals to “perform” — to run or buck against their nature and beyond their natural abilities.
Rodeos victimize and abuse animals for profit. These animals are trucked around the country in intensely hot trailers, kicked, hit, and shocked in their pens, then forced to act wild, run and buck through pain, fear and torment.