Alameda County Bans Cruel Rodeo Event

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In Defense of Animals welcomes the passage of California’s Alameda County sheep riding ban, which was passed at a hearing of the Alameda County Board of Supervisors on October 29th. With this ordinance in place, sheep will no longer be tormented for entertainment at the annual Rowell Ranch Rodeo in Castro Valley.

Sheep riding, or “mutton busting,” is a rodeo event where children jump on terrified sheep, riding them around as the sheep struggle desperately to free themselves. The entertainment was condemned as cruel by veterinary experts and animal advocates who spoke in favor of the ban at yesterday’s Board meeting.

Mutton busting is now banned in Alameda County. Image credit Larry Lamsa, CC BY-SA 2.0.

“Alameda County’s sheep riding ban is an important first step,” said Matthew Hamity, Director of Campaigns and Legislative Affairs for In Defense of Animals, who was present to give testimony at the meeting. “We will not rest until the cruelest rodeo practices are abolished. Tie-down calf roping, and the use of flank strap and spurs in horse bucking events, routinely cause serious injury and even death.”

“The tide is turning against exploitation and abuse of animals for entertainment,” said Marilyn Kroplick M.D., President of In Defense of Animals. “The shocking mistreatment of sheep, calves and horses in rodeo is every bit as harmful and significant as the cruelty inflicted on orcas at SeaWorld and elephants in circuses.”

In Defense of Animals joined the Coalition for a More Humane Alameda County in support of the ordinance. Hundreds of In Defense of Animals members and Alameda County residents called and sent letters to their representatives on the Board, calling on them to do the right thing by banning sheep riding. 

Calf roping is another cruel rodeo event that activists are calling to be banned. Image credit Frank Kehren, CC BY-SA 2.0.

While commending the Board for its decisive action on sheep riding, activists also voiced concern that some of the cruelest rodeo practices in the county still have yet to be addressed. In the spirit of establishing a more humane rodeo, In Defense of Animals and the Coalition for a More Humane Alameda County have proposed an ordinance that would prohibit spurs and bucking straps, as well as tie-down calf roping.

In May of this year, In Defense of Animals launched its campaign to highlight rodeo cruelty by placing a “calf roping kills” billboard on Highway 580, one of the busiest routes in the Bay Area, which was displayed throughout the duration of Castro Valley’s Rowell Ranch Rodeo.


Featured image: in mutton busting, a child clings to a terrified sheep as the sheep tries to escape. Image credit rubengarciajrphotography, CC BY-SA 2.0.

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In Defense of Animals is an international animal protection organization with over 250,000 valued supporters and a 30-year history of protecting animals, people and the environment through education, campaigns and hands on rescue facilities in India, Africa, and rural Mississippi. Our main headquarters are established in San Rafael, California. Click to see author's profile.

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