SHowing Animals Respect and KindnessSHARK
No charges in alleged cruelty at rodeoProsecutors don't know name of man jabbing bulls in video
By BRUCE RUSHTON, The State Journal-Register
SHARK's comments on the article are in red.
Sangamon County's chief prosecutor said Monday charges won't be filed against anyone for jabbing bulls with sharp objects during last summer's National High School Finals Rodeo at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.
State's Attorney John Schmidt said prosecutors can't proceed because they don't know the name of a man caught jabbing bulls in videos taken by members of an animal-rights group called Showing Animals Respect and Kindness.
"I need to identify someone," Schmidt said. "If we get the identification, we will continue the investigation."
SHARK will be the first to admit that the so-called "investigation" of the Illinois Department of Agriculture into the abuses at the 2006 was proven to be the work of either incompetent morons or corrupt blind-eyes. However, we have a very difficult time understanding how Mr. Schmidt's office could hold the case for as long as it did before suddenly realizing that there were no names associated with the cruelty. Mr. Schmidt's slow pace is both perplexing and frustrating.
Steve Hindi, SHARK president, said he'll take up where state Department of Agriculture investigators left off.
I've still got a good half-year to track down who these people are," said Hindi, who figures the statute of limitations won't kick in for another six months.
There is no question that the rodeo people will completely obstruct this investigation, and we further predict that the Department of Agriculture will behave in largely the same manner. The Ag. Director Charles Hartke and his staff have been running to "meetings" with the rodeo crowd, and these "meetings" have included banquets, parties and other pleasurable affairs, all at taxpayer expense. During the 2006 NHSFR, Hartke played rodeo announcer for one night, and publicly professed his love of rodeo. What Hartke has never been involved in is the part of the Ag. Department that is supposed to enforce the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act.
Hartke, like Governor Rod Blagojevich, to whom Hartke is subservient, is in the pockets of the rodeo people. Blagojevich and his administration have been the targets of many charges of corruption, and have the interest of the Feds. Hopefully Blagojevich will eventually end up like his predecessor, former governor George Ryan, who was also a supporter of the high school rodeo finals being held in Illinois, and who also ignored humane violations that were documented at each and every rodeo performance.
If prosecutors get names, Schmidt said the investigation will proceed, but he made no other promises.
"I'm not saying we would or wouldn't file charges," Schmidt said.
Again, Mr. Schmidt's comments are perplexing. Is he simply in need of the identities of the suspects documented abusing animals, or is he just making excuses? Time will tell, but Schmidt's statements are a matter of concern.
Hindi, whose group pressured the Department of Agriculture into investigating alleged cruelty at the rodeo - which returns to the fairgrounds' Multipurpose Arena July 23-29 - has blasted the state for not finding out who jabbed bulls and otherwise provoked animals as they left chutes during the rodeo last year.
In files turned over to prosecutors in March, state investigators said bulls were jabbed, shocked, slapped and had their tails pulled as they left chutes. In many cases, such conduct violates the rules of the National High School Rodeo Association, which has so far declined to take any action.
The National High School Rodeo Association (NHSRA) has declined to take action against those who were clearly and repeatedly documented violating both the NHSRA's so-called "humane rules" as well as Illinois state law, because that is the way that the NHSRA has always operated. Rodeo humane rules are a public relations ploy -- nothing more.
Kent Sturman, executive director of the rodeo association, could not be reached for comment Monday.
Mr. Sturman will not comment because he is in a corner, and he isn't man enough to handle it. He claims that his association enforces humane rules, which it doesn't. Now he needs to make good on his word, but his word is no good, so Mr. Sturman runs.
The rodeo industry always runs when cornered. We realize that this is a stark contrast to the usual bluster about what tough guys rodeo people are supposed to be, but the industry is loaded with, and absolutely run by corrupt cowards. Just to prove this point, SHARK president Steve Hindi challenges NHSRA director Kent Sturman to a public debate. If Sturman doesn't have what it takes (and he doesn't) Hindi will take on any rodeo person representing the National High School Rodeo Association.
Don't hold your breath on this. SHARK predicts hell will freeze over a dozen times before anyone from the NHSRA debates anyone from SHARK. It's that whole coward thing.
Hindi, who last fall passed a test to become a volunteer humane investigator for the state Department of Agriculture, vowed to use his powers as an investigator to get the names of people who jabbed or otherwise provoked bulls.
"The bottom line is, everybody just wants it to go away," Hindi said of his group's complaints. "Am I disappointed? Of course."
Even rodeo fans should be concerned, Hindi said. He noted that not every bull was provoked as it entered the arena. In rodeo, contestants are judged by how much an animal bucks, so contestants on bulls that were provoked had an advantage, he said.
"If you care about fair competition, you should be concerned," Hindi said. "They're enhancing performance by being very cruel to the animals. They're teaching young people to break rules, then lie about it."
Rodeo is fantasyland for narcissists. These people violate their own rules and state laws, lie about it for as long as possible, and then run for cover when cornered. Rodeos aren't true competition because although all the animals are abused, they are not treated the same way. Some have their tails twisted, some are shocked, some are stabbed, etc. Many have combinations of extra abuse heaped on, but they are not treated the same, which is a necessity of real competition.
SHARK has not been without its successes, however. The group apparently has helped convince a national hotel chain to drop its sponsorship of the National High School Rodeo Association.
Hindi said Choice Hotels International dropped its sponsorship after SHARK contacted company officials and raised concerns about cruelty at rodeos. Several calls to officials at Choice Hotels International by The State Journal-Register have gone unreturned. But the chain's logo has disappeared from the rodeo association's Web site, which says that the hotel company has, in fact, ceased being an official sponsor.
According to Choice hotel company representatives, the decision to move from being an official sponsor was based on a number of factors, including overall marketing strategy, as well as animal welfare issues raised by critics of the sport of rodeo," the association says in a statement on its Web page.
The hotel chain will continue offering discounts on rooms for rodeo contestants. The rodeo association says it reached a mutual decision with the hotel company to amend a sponsorship contract that runs through 2009.
Choice Hotels dumped the rodeo because SHARK sent the company evidence of animal abuse violating not only the NHSRA's own so-called "humane rules", but also state law. It's that simple. Too bad other NHSRA corporate sponsors have chosen to advertise to animal abusers, rather than take a stand against cruelty. Help put an end to rodeo cruelty by contacting these NHSRA sponsors. You can also find an expanded list of cruel, unethical and undignified corporate rodeo sponsors at CorporateThugs.com.
SHARK is a US registered 501(c)(3) tax-deductible nonprofit charity, which means your donation is tax deductible!
Send us an email: info@SHARKonline.org
Educate YOUR Community!