Rodeo Violence Could Damage New Zealand’s Overseas Trade – Lynn Charlton, Anti-Rodeo Action NZ

Thousands of rodeos take place in the world every year, around 35 in New Zealand. Originally arising out of cattle herding practices in Mexico and Spain, today they are held as mass entertainment, and to test the skill and speed of ‘cowboys and cowgirls’.   

Most rodeo activities cause the animals they use pain and distress,  Physical injuries include broken necks, broken bones, bruising, and ruptured skin.  The animals – sometimes just babies as in ‘calf roping’ –  also suffer extreme psychological stress.

In this article, Lynn Charlton of Anti-Rodeo Action argues that the violence we continue to allow against defenceless animals is at odds with our own Animal Welfare Act.  Rodeo contradicts New Zealand’s self-proclaimed high animal welfare, and could damage our overseas trade.

(First published as an Opinion Editorial in stuff.co.nz. 

Feature image: Lynn Charlton of Anti-Rodeo Action NZ.)

 

Photo credit: Bejon Haswell/Stuff 

 

Last week, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor warned that international markets have indicated that New Zealand farming practices are going to come under increasing scrutiny, so “we all have to lift our game”.

“We live in a fishbowl whether we like it or not,” O’Connor said.

In 2017, the minister warned: “Disruption is upon us. If we don’t have better environmental management, if we don’t have more sustainable land use and uphold the highest standards of animal welfare, we won’t be able to sell our products into … high-value markets.”

READ MORE:
Government backs down on promise to ban elements of rodeo
Action group appeals to UN to have children banned from rodeo
Rodeo: Ultimate sport, family fun or blatant animal abuse?

Despite these warnings, resistance to doing the right thing is rife in New Zealand, as the farming community, fearful of change, demonstrates so well.

One area of resistance from farmers is in the violence committed against animals at rodeos.

The New Zealand Animal Law Association concluded, in 2018, that rodeos are illegal and in breach of the Animal Welfare Act.

That same year, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) convened an expert animal welfare panel which, applying science (though most people could see that it was cruel), found that animals experienced moderate to severe impacts in every rodeo event bar one – and that one isn’t without its problems. With the rodeo travelling-cruelty-circuses resuming this coming weekend, the assault-as-entertainment will be perpetuated by the same farmers that profit from exports based on our supposedly high animal welfare standards.

Retired beef, sheep, dairy farmer and anti-rodeo campaigner Alice Hicks, one of the few farmers willing to speak out publicly against rodeos, was asked to comment for this article. She said, “If farmers treated animals in their day-to-day business the way rodeos treat animals, they would be prosecuted, and have frightened, non-productive animals”.

Soon it will be five years since legal and animal welfare experts produced their findings.

The country has watched animals being brutalised every summer since, slowed only by Covid-19. This year legal action in the High Court to stop rodeos was passed back to NAWAC, when Justice Churchman acknowledged he did not have the expertise to assess each rodeo event. Fair enough.

In a radical change for NAWAC – and one decades overdue – a recent stakeholder document on a proposed new rodeo code of welfare includes banning calf roping, calf riding, steer wrestling, team roping, breakaway roping and spurring.

We await the next phase of public consultation on this, and no doubt the farming lobby, profiting from exports, will be claiming rodeos have great animal welfare, and being thrown around and spurred in the neck doesn’t hurt animals one bit. From their point of view, if animals can walk away after the assault, it didn’t hurt them. Loathe to say it, but that mentality was once commonly used against women who had suffered assault.

“We await the next phase of public consultation on this, and no doubt the farming lobby, profiting from exports, will be claiming rodeos have great animal welfare, and being thrown around and spurred in the neck doesn’t hurt animals one bit.”

The problem is that farmers and their lobby groups have too much say in government, and every government, is and has been, lassoed, washing-lined, and hog-tied into submission by them. Farmers are rodeo. Without them, rodeos would not exist.

Meanwhile, clubs have been recruiting children and young people and practising away from public scrutiny. Following rodeo association guidelines, they’ve avoided posting videos and photographs because of public outcry. This Government and any other government will be failing to uphold the rule of law by allowing rodeos to continue, confirming to farmers that violence towards animals is state-sanctioned.

While it shouldn’t take concerns over profit from export to inspire us to do the right thing by animals, we’ve been warned, and will get what we deserve.

Discerning international markets are watching and will increasingly be watching how we manage the environment and animal welfare.

The Government must do the right thing, and those farmers who are genuinely concerned about animal welfare should speak out and call for a ban on this violence.

“The Government must do the right thing, and those farmers who are genuinely concerned about animal welfare should speak out and call for a ban on this violence.”

Will the Dr Oz animal abuse controversy help to end animal testing?

 

 

by Sandra Kyle, Editor, May Safely Graze

 

I remember watching Dr Mehmet Oz on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where he made many appearances over the years.  Oprah was clearly a fan, and Harpo Productions subsequently launched The Dr Oz Show, a daily television program on medical matters and health that was hosted by the charismatic heart surgeon.  The program, while popular, came under a lot of scrutiny by the medical establishment as he featured such topics as faith healing and the paranormal.  Now the doctor is embroiled in even more serious allegations, that he abused animals when he was ‘principal investigator’ in the Columbia University Institute of Comparative Medicine labs.

Mehmet Oz is a true American success story.  The son of Turkish immigrants whose father literally grew up ‘dirt poor’ – sleeping on a dirt floor in his native country – before emigrating to the United States.   Before he became a medical celebrity he had a brilliant career as a heart surgeon and academic, and in the latest stage of his self -reinvention is venturing into politics, currently running for the Pennsylvania Senate.   From his point of view, the news that surfaced this week that he supervised a vivisection laboratory that committed animal abuse is terrible timing.

After centuries of vivisection going back to 500 BCE, and that swelled enormously from the mid 20th century, we seem to be reaching a point where testing on animals is losing public sanction.  Yet an estimated 100 million animals still suffer and die every year in laboratories all over the world, with little or no protection from cruelty.  While a wide range of animals are experimented on, most commonly used are non-human primates, rats and mice, dogs, pigs, cats, sheep, rabbits and pigeons.  The animals are then killed when they are no longer useful to the experiment.

It is cruel and unethical to sentence animals to a barren life in a laboratory cage, intentionally cause them pain, disfiguration, loneliness, fear and despair, and then at the end of it all, take their lives.  But it is also bad science.

In 2004 the FDA estimated that 92 percent of drugs that pass preclinical tests, and use animals, fail to proceed to the market.  One has to ask how all that time, money, energy – and animal suffering – can be justified for such a poor result.

 

 

Humane alternatives to animal testing now exist, including computer modelling, in vitro technology, human-patient simulators among others, and what’s more they are cheaper, faster and more accurate than animal tests.

It is time to stop the cruelty and waste that is animal testing, and use current technology to achieve better outcomes.

New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Website

 

Voices For Animals Over The Years: Henry Bergh, Founder of the ASPCA

As part of our series ‘Voices for Animals over the Years’ in this article we profile Henry Bergh, the founder of the American Society for the Protection of Animals.

 

Henry Bergh (August 29, 1811-March 12, 1888) was the founder of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) and was also involved in founding the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Bergh was the first to successfully challenge the prevailing view that animals were property with no rights of their own.

Bergh was born to wealth in New York City. His parents were Elizabeth Ivers and Christian Bergh, a ship builder.  As a young man he attended Columbia College in New York, but never completed his degree, instead travelling to Europe, where he dabbled in the arts and attempted a career in writing. In 1836 he married Catherine Matilda (née Taylor) and after his father’s death in 1843 he was rich enough to become a man of leisure, and he and his wife moved to Europe, where he wrote several unsuccessful plays.

In 1863 President Abraham Lincoln appointed him to the American Legation at the court of Czar Alexander II in Russia. While in Europe, and particularly in Russia, Bergh witnessed extreme abuse of animals, which was commonplace.   At that time life was extremely hard for animals, and they had absolutely no rights or protection.   To see the way animals were treated, particularly horses who at that time were the main mode of transport and visible everywhere, made Bergh very sad.   While he was in Russia, whenever he noticed a peasant beating his horse he would step between the abuser and the animal, and command that the beating stop at once.  In this simple and courageous way he began his journey speaking out for the rights of suffering animals, and encouraging others to do the same.   

On his way back to the United States from Russia, Bergh stopped in England where he observed the work of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and he became determined to form a similar organization in America. Once home he began to talk to people about animals’ rights, enlisting the support of many influential friends.  Because of his contacts, people skills and his own money, he was successful in getting the first animal protection laws in America passed.  In 1866 he and his supporters formed the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, generally known as the SPCA.

The idea that animals had rights was laughable at that time, but Bergh and his followers were passionate.  They gave speeches on street corners, raising the awareness of the public, who began to be see that to treat animals cruelly is morally wrong.

Through the fledgling SPCA’s outreach, city dwellers also came to be aware of the suffering, not only of overworked and exploited horses drawing carriages, but also of farmed animals.  Out in the country dairy cows were suffering.  Many were half-starved, and were living in filthy barns.  As a result of their advocacy for dairy cows,  Bergh and his followers succeeded in getting regulations passed that dairy cows had to be well fed,  and were to be given decent shelter in clean barns.

Bergh fought for the rights of not just horses and cows but also of dogs, sheep, and other animals. He believed that all animals were important, including those on their way to slaughterhouses.  An empathetic and caring man, he later extended his concern to abused children, being instrumental in the founding of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.

When Bergh died in 1888, he was greatly respected. His life had been devoted to improving the treatment of the most innocent and helpless – animals and children.    Today the ASPCA carries on the work of its compassionate founder Henry Bergh, friend of all animals.

The Chinese Fur Industry Is Cruel and Heartless

Think about your beloved companion dog. He or she pulls at your heart strings, right?   They are really smart, but what you especially treasure is their loving and loyal nature.   They greet you like you’ve been gone a year when you’ve only been gone five minutes!  Their joy is infectious, whether you’re proposing a meal, a ride in the car, or a walk.    They help to relieve your stress by just being at your side, and they love you unconditionally.  They never make you feel guilty, and if anything, blame themselves before blaming you.  Uncannily they know when you’re feeling depressed or sad, and will come and put a paw on your lap or look up at you as if to say ‘Don’t worry, you’ve got me!’.  

Now think of your beloved companion cat.  You know he or she is intelligent, and that cats have personalities as varied as yours or mine.   They are affectionate, and surprisingly loyal. Amusing companions,  they like to perch in high places, and crouch in dark places like cardboard boxes and cupboards, and they get up to other antics they you have probably videoed and put up on Youtube – right?  Comfort loving in the extreme, they will keep your seat warm for you on your favourite chair, which is also the most comfortable in the house, and register their disapproval when asked to vacate it.  When your cat wants something, he or she asks you for it, both loudly and insistently. They are completely adorable, but if they are not happy with you, they will let you know.     A glare, a swish of the tail, a furious and defiant claw scrape of your furniture and you know you’re not in your cat’s good books!   Don’t worry, cats, like dogs, are very forgiving…  

Imagine, then, if your beloved family member were living in a country where ruthless men and women abduct and hunt them for the trade that supplies fur all over the world.

Read PETA’s article about cats, dogs, minks, rabbits, foxes and other animals who are suffering appalling abuses in the lucrative Chinese fur industry.