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UPDATED: Bull Riding, Protests at Honda Center this Weekend

PBR rider in Indianapolis in 2008. Photo: Paul J Everett/Wikimedia Commons [1]

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 [2] 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 [3]. “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 [4] (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 [5] to RSVP for Friday night (Sept. 6) and here [6] 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.