UPDATED: Bull Riding, Protests at Honda Center this Weekend

PBR rider in Indianapolis in 2008. Photo: Paul J Everett/Wikimedia Commons

Here’s a bit of unusual local history: it’s illegal to hold a rodeo in Laguna Woods.

You heard me.

“No person shall conduct any rodeo or bull-riding, calf-roping, horse-bucking, steer wrestling, or any other similar exhibition or activity or any activity whatsoever which involves cruelty to horses, cattle or other animals,” states Section 5.02.050 of the City of Laguna Woods municipal code.

While a number of Orange County cities like Irvine have banned rodeos, it struck us as odd that tiny Laguna Woods would have done so, too. According to Jim Beres, who works as Animal Services Manager for the City of Laguna Woods, the reason is simple. Back in 1977 (for reasons Beres didn’t know), the City of Laguna Beach passed a prohibition on rodeos. After Laguna Woods incorporated in 1999, the city contracted animal control services from Laguna Beach, which meant it had to adopt all of Laguna Beach’s animal control ordinances, including its prohibition on rodeos.

And so far, according to Beres, no one has come to Laguna Woods in the last decade asking to hold a rodeo there. While we’re not exactly sure where you might hold a rodeo in Laguna Woods (or Laguna Beach, for that matter), we guess it’s the thought that counts.

In any case, no such prohibition exists in Anaheim, obviously, which is why Professional Bull Riders (PBR) will hold a big event at Honda Center on Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday, Sept. 7.

“PBR (Professional Bull Riders) is strictly bull riding, and the first step is just staying alive,” states PBR’s publicity materials. “There are no timeouts. No slow-down, four-corners offense. No towels to throw in. There is only one man, one bull and 8 desperate seconds.”

Man, we can almost smell the bull after reading that.

Anyway, Last Chance for Animals (LCA) will be out at Honda Center, too, protesting both nights.

“The ‘sport’ of bull riding often employs the use of tools of torment like spurs, flank straps, and 5,000-volt electric prods in order to encourage bucking and overall ‘wild’ behavior in bulls that are generally docile,” states a Sept. 5 LCA press release. “Due to their aggressive bucking and unnatural movements, these bulls often suffer horrific injuries like torn ligaments and broken limbs.”

The Friday night protest runs 5:30-7:45 p.m. and the Saturday night protest takes place 4:30-6:45 p.m. If you plan on attending either protest, LCA asks that you RSVP. Click here to RSVP for Friday night (Sept. 6) and here for Saturday night (Sept. 7).

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UPDATE: Shortly after this post went up, PBR spokesperson Andrew Giangola emailed this response to LCA’s claims:

Contrary to the LCA’s claims, there is no negative stimulation causing the bulls to buck.  These extraordinary animals are not shocked or otherwise agitated to buck.  The bulls you’ll see at PBR events like at Honda Center in Anaheim this weekend are genetically bred to buck, treated like world-class athletes, and live a great life four to five times longer than bulls not privileged to be in the PBR.

The average bull lives 3 years then goes to the slaughterhouse. Bulls fortunate enough to make it to the PBR face a significantly different fate. They do what they love (just as you know when your dog is happy in retrieving a ball, so is the behavior of these bulls when “doing their job”) and are pampered by their owners in getting the best food and care. The bulls then go to stud when they retire from competition – living their lives surrounded by cows on a farm or ranch and passing of natural causes there generally between the ages of 12-16.

Considering the all-too brief life of other bovines, competing in the PBR is like winning the animal lottery. Anyone who loves animals should support this sport.

Rather than hearing about PBR from people spreading falsehoods to support a narrow agenda, we’d welcome you to come out, see it yourself, and speak to the stock contractors and the men and women of the PBR.

 

 

 

Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.

12 Replies to “UPDATED: Bull Riding, Protests at Honda Center this Weekend”

  1. “Ah, a rodeo…where the most intelligent animal is the one getting ridden!” – Brad Loekle

    I always root for the bull, myself.

    1. Rodeo folks always tell the public that they are celebrating activities performed on ranches. Nonsense! As a former bareback bronc rider and a veterinarian who treated rodeo and ranch cattle and horses, there is no resemblance. No ranch client of mine ever rodeo his bulls, speed roped his calves or made his expensive well trained horses buck.

      Time to end this foolish and animal abusing “sport”.

  2. Rodeos were outlawed in the United Kingdom (England, Scotland, Wales) back in 1934. Can the U.S. be far behind? Nearly EVERY animal welfare organization in North America condemns rodeo due to its inherent cruelty. Even the cowboys admit the problems. Consider:

    “If it gets to the point where people think rodeo is inhumane or cruel, they quit coming, and then we’re out of business. (–Tom Hirsig, CEO, Cheyenne Frontier Days, in the July 27, 2018 WYOMING TRIBUNE EAGLE)

    “Do I think it hurts the calf? Sure I do. I’m not stupid.” (–Keith Martin, chair of the board, PRCA. In the February 6, 2000 SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS)

    California stock contractors Cotton Rosser and John Growney have both expressed their concerns about calf roping, as has author Larry McMurtry (author of “Lonesome Dove,” the cowboys’ fave)

    “I keep 30 head of cattle around for practice, at $200 a head. You can cripple three or four in an afternoon.” (–Dr. T.K. Hardy, a Texas veterinarian and sometime steer roper, quoted in NEWSWEEK, 10/2/72)

    And a personal favorite, from an 18-year-old Rodeo Queen: “What me and my friends really hate are Democrats, environmentalists and gays.” (–in the book, “Rodeo Queens and the American Dream,” by Prof. Joan Burbick)

  3. THANK YOU Mr. Pignataro for writing this.
    Large, powerful animals are absolutely killed in rodeos & bull riding events. Humans are killed too, but they have a choice. Hey Andrew Giangola- why don’t you take away the bucking straps? Let’s see how much these bulls buck then! Anybody can look at these poor animals in their holding pens or transport trailer trucks before the events, and they are NOT bucking. Furthermore, these animals are not bred to book like you claim. They are genetically selected. The bulls that are the most irritated by the bucking strap are the ones used for breeding. Lastly, the bulls that are “not so good” at bucking, or who suffer mortal wounds (thus ending their “career”) will end up at slaughter. Shame on you for thinking that we can be fooled by your pathetic, thinly veiled propaganda. The world is waking up, we are evolving and tormenting animals for entertainment will soon no longer be a part of it.

  4. What a bunch of bull poop. Abusing animals and saying that they like it is pathetic. Shame on all of the participants, sponsors and vendors .

  5. From Larry McMurtry, author of “Lonesome Dove,” the cowboys’ fave:

    “No one on a working ranch would ever have any reason (or desire) to ride a bull, Brahma or otherwise. No one would ever be required to race a horse around three triangularly placed barrels, an activity that quickly ruins the horse for more productive activity. Bull riding and barrel racing are rodeo kabuki–their relation to anything that might happen on a ranch is confined to costume.” (–in the book, “RODEO,” with photos by the late Louise Serpa, and commentary by Larry McMurtry. Aperture Books, NYC, 1994)

    Bull riding is a bogus event from the git-go. Hardly the Life of Riley, as the proponents proclaim. Anyone who claims the bulls “enjoy” their ordeal in the arena is in need of some serious therapy. The bulls are aggravated by the unnatural weight of the cowboy, bucking ropes, kicks and slaps, and misuse of electric prods the size of a pack of cigarettes, and difficult to detect. Plus the stress of constant travel. Some “sport”! Bull riding (indeed, all of rodeo) is not a “sport” at all. True “sport” denotes willing, evenly-match participants. Rodeo does not qualify. It’s an exercise in DOMINATION.

    Time to hang up those spurs, boys, and get a REAL job.

    SEE WEBSITE: https://www.actionforanimals-oakland.com

  6. A New York Times article re: “science” behind breeding these animals.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/01/05/science/bulls-rodeo-animals.html
    (This article was published right before Mason Lowe, age 25, was killed at a PBR Colorado stock show. The bull that killed him remains on the circuit.)
    DIRECT QUOTES, copied and pasted:
    “The products of this intensive artificial selection have one job: to buck, spin and kick as hard and unpredictably as they can with a rider on board. If the rider stays on for eight seconds, he is scored for how well he rode, the bull is scored for how hard he was to ride and the scores are combined.

    Calves that don’t buck may end up at the slaughterhouse, but for those who do buck, it’s a sweet life, at least according to breeders. Matt Scharping, who owns Phenom Genetics in Minnesota, said, “If you’re born a really good bucking bull it’s like winning the bovine lottery.”
    The lucky bulls are carefully fed, gradually exposed to the lights and noise of a rodeo environment to reduce stress and, if they prove successful, retired to lives as semen producers. Some are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. The semen can sell for thousands of dollars per straw, about a tenth of a teaspoon.”

    Mr Giangola, “winning the animal lottery” you claim? Hardly! These animals are stuffed onto standard livestock transport trucks, the same ones that deliver animals to slaughterhouses, and are carted around from city to city. Night after night, they are tormented with bucking straps, spurs, and the weight of a full grown man on their backs. At county fairs, fourth of July events, etc- oftentimes they are stuck under fireworks displays. If you are so concerned about bovine longevity, then I am sure you don’t wear leather, right? Do you eat beef, or consume dairy? How I wish I could post photos in my response. I have piles of DCA Rodeo Reporting Forms, and I have sorted through all the documents from 2003-2019 & pulled out all of the bull injuries and fatalities. These poor animals are also injured when they ESCAPE (at least 20 bulls have escaped from rodeos and bull riding events, 10 have been killed). Bulls get injured when climbing in and out of trailers, and of course they are injured and killed when “performing.” Lastly, do you really expect us to believe that they “enjoy” this, as a dog enjoys playing ball? I have 30 years of bull riding incidents & fatalities (human and animal) archived on my computer. When reading accounts of the human accidents, there is one thing the bulls are making abundantly clear: they do not want to be ridden. Repeatedly, these bulls will buck off their rider, then deliberately circle back and stomp on them, sit on them, or head butt them (the head-butt maneuver is what killed Lane Frost). THIS is typically the fatal blow. Even with a helmet and kevlar vest, 2,000 pounds of pure muscle will still crush you to death. It is time to evolve and stop using and abusing these magnificent, gentle giants for so-called entertainment.

  7. PBR purports the bulls are treated well, that ‘they do what they love’ and that they ‘are pampered by their owners’; however, bull riding does routinely use tools of torment like painful flank straps, 5,000-volt electric prods, and spurs in order to encourage wild, aggressive bucking in normally tame bulls.

    Bulls can sustain numerous physical injuries (not to mention psychological traumas) as a result of this “sport,” such as pulled muscles, torn ligaments, and broken limbs—just to name a few. Bulls that are injured do not typically receive veterinary care and are killed instead.

    In addition to bull injuries, a study from the University of Calgary found rodeo contestants, such as those that ride bulls, are 20 times more likely to suffer catastrophic injuries than football players—one of the most recent fatalities occurred at a PBR event in Denver when 25-year-old rider, Mason Lowe, was killed after a bull stomped on his chest. Over the years, there have been many instances of bulls stomping on or head-butting their riders after they’ve been bucked off. On average, one bull rider is killed each year, including teens from junior rodeo events.

    While bull riders voluntarily risk their lives to partake in this “sport”, the bulls do not have a choice.

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