Riding Rodeo Cruelty Out of Town – Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, Advocates Rally in Albany to Spur Passage of Legislation to Ban Cruel Rodeo Acts

February 11, 2020

Albany, New York – New York State Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal (D/WF-Manhattan) was joined by advocates from across the state at a press conference in support of her legislation (A.8554) to prohibit the use of cruel acts in rodeos, including calf roping and the use of electric prods, flank or bucking straps and sharpened or fixed spurs. The advocates also called on Madison Square Garden (MSG), which receives a lifetime property tax abatement and is hosting a rodeo in New York City in June 2020, to cancel the cruel event.

“Rodeos are modern day gladiator games – blood sport masquerading as entertainment,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal. “Make no mistake about it: bull riding and other rodeo events are not family-friendly entertainment. Animals used in rodeos are forced to travel city to city to put on a show that revolves around humans terrorizing them until they act out of terror, pain and exhaustion. Many animals are injured, and some are killed as a result. I’ve introduced legislation to prohibit animal abuse in the context of rodeos. Outside the context of the rodeo, events such as these would easily be classified as cruelty.”

Longtime animal advocates from NYCLASS (New Yorkers for Clean, Liveable Streets), SHARK (SHowing Animals Respect and Kindness), Red Robin Song Animal Sanctuary, Horseracing Wrongs, Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund and Dr. Peggy W. Larson, DVM, MS, JD, a former rodeo veterinarian now advocating against rodeos, traveled to Albany to express support for Rosenthal’s legislation.

In partnership with the Cowboy Channel, MSG will host a three-day rodeo event in June 2020 in New York City. RODEO NEW YORK will feature rodeo world champions competing in a series of seven “signature events.” The events include bull riding, during which a person tries to ride a bucking bull by holding onto a rope that is tied tightly around the bull’s waist and/or testicles. The tight rope causes pain and discomfort, which encourages increased bucking. Tie-down calf roping is perhaps the cruelest rodeo event. During it, baby calves, which would still be with their mothers, are tortured when cowboys chase them down, tackle them to the ground with a lasso tied tightly around their throats and then tie their legs together with another rope. During the saddle bronc event, riders are encouraged to wear spurs to irritate and injure the horses they are riding because “the better they buck, the better the score,” according to Silver Spurs Rodeo.

“It is shocking that MSG would host this brutality,” said Assemblymember Linda B. Rosenthal, who has talked with the venue about the cruelty of the rodeo and asked them repeatedly to cancel the event. “It is deeply disturbing that a private company which receives a multi-million-dollar property tax abatement each year - $42 million last year alone - is hosting an event that violates the spirit of our State’s animal cruelty laws. There has been a shift away from violent events in circuses and other commercial venues; apparently, MSG didn’t get the memo.”

“I have the combined experience of being a former rodeo bareback bronc competitor myself, and then a large-animal veterinarian. The injuries sustained by animals abused in rodeos include broken bones, ruptured internal organs, massive internal hemorrhage, hemorrhage from torn muscles, dislocated joints, extensive bruising, torn ligaments, damaged tendons, hemorrhage, damage to the throat, and damage to the thyroid gland. Many die. Animals in rodeos suffer severe injuries and intense pain and it is inhumane to allow rodeos to continue. I am in full support of Assembly member Linda Rosenthal's bill to prohibit rodeo acts in New York’ said Peggy Larsen, DVM, MS, JD.

Edita Birnkrant, Executive Director of NYCLASS said, "Cruelty and violence are inherent in rodeo events like calf roping, where baby animals are brutalized and often suffer grievous injuries. NYCLASS commends Assemblymember Rosenthal for her bill that would finally prohibit these grotesque acts of animal cruelty from New York and we fully support its passage and enactment into law."

Lisa Robinson-Redd said, "As co-founder of Red Robin Song Animal Sanctuary located 30 minutes from Albany, where we care for over 65 rescued animals every day, I am enthusiastically in support of Assemblymember Rosenthal's bill to prohibit violent rodeo acts. Just over a year ago we added a family of yaks to our sanctuary - yaks are so similar to the bulls abused in rodeos, and these noble, gentle creatures deserve our protection from abuse."

Patrick Battuello, Founder, President, Director of Horseracing Wrongs, "Horseracing Wrongs fully endorses Assemblymember Rosenthal’s bill that would prohibit certain acts in rodeos. In a world that abounds with various forms of animal abuse, there is perhaps none more blatant and public than the modern American rodeo. The events and the tools that allow for those events – the electric prod, the flank strap, the sharpened spur – are cruel relics of a decidedly unenlightened past, indeed a “show” one might expect in 1st Century Rome, not 21st Century America."

“Rodeos are nothing more than brutal displays of violence and control over defenseless animals. It is "bullying" in its purest form. If anyone did these things to a dog or cat, it would be considered a crime. What is done to baby cows, horses, and bulls in rodeos is equally criminal. These events should be illegal and ACEF wholeheartedly supports Assemblymeber Rosenthal's bill,” said Nora Constance Marino, Esq., Pres. of Animal Cruelty Exposure Fund.

Small rodeo events which occur in settings around the state would still be permitted to operate so long as they stopped using traditional tools of cruelty or engaging in acts that rely on causing pain, terror or exhaustion to the animal.

The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA) is supposed to regulate the welfare of the animals used in rodeos. Sadly, the Association allows the use of electric prods and other tools of violence to shock “stallers,” horses that are slow to come out of the gate, into action. The PRCA is an industry trade group, and no independent third-party veterinary organization regulates or tracks the injuries caused to animals or the number of deaths that result from those injuries.

States such as California, Rhode Island, and Nevada, have passed laws regulating or banning altogether rodeo events, and some cities are doing the same. New York should follow suit.