Television Station KCRA – Sacramento, California
FOLSOM, Calif. -- The Folsom rodeo is under investigation for alleged acts of animal cruelty. An activist group based in the Midwest says that they have video that shows rodeo handlers illegally shocking bulls to make them act wild.
The video is now in the hands of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the Folsom Police Department.
The animal activist group says that their tape clearly shows bulls being mistreated with an electric cattle prod, but the rodeo and some experts say that those charges are false.
Donna Hertel belongs to the group SHARK, Showing Animals Respect and Kindness. On July 5, she shot video during the Folsom rodeo that she believes shows one handler illegally shocking a bull.
"Rodeo animals are tortured to appear wild. It's just as simple as that," Hertel said.
When the video is shown in slow motion, you can see a handler holding a small black device in his hand. Hertel claims that it's a mini Hot Shot electric cattle prod.
If that is true, under California state law, it's illegal. The law states that "the rodeo management shall ensure that no electric prod or similar device is used on any animal once the animal is in the holding chute, unless necessary to protect the participants and spectators of the rodeo."
Humane officers from the SPCA and Folsom Police Department have seen the tape and are investigating if there are signs of animal cruelty. Neither would comment on the videotape. So KCRA showed the videotape to the UC Davis veterinary school.
The director of the teaching hospital, Dr. Brad Davis, said that the video shows the bull is lying down in the chute; otherwise, you would be able to see the rider's upper body. He said that it looks like the handler is trying to get the animal to stand up.
"I think it's an appropriate use of a Hot Shot. The bull is putting the rider at risk if he's lying down in the chute or if he were to roll over," Davis said.
Davis said that as long as the handler is using the electric prod to move the bull through the chute or to get up, that it's OK.
"If there were evidence they were using the Hot Shot on every bull to get it to buck better, that might be a different set of questions," Davis said.
Dr. Davis ignores the fact that the use of the electric prod on a bull in a chute violates the so-called "humane rules" of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the association that sanctioned the Folsom rodeo, although SHARK believe that these rules exist for public relations purposes only. Therefore, ANY use of the prod on a bull in a chute is inappropriate according to the rodeo's own humane rules.
Additionally, representatives of Hot Shot Corporation, the manufacturers of the electric prod, have repeatedly stated that they do not approve of the use of their products in rodeos. Furthermore, Dr. Davis ignored the fact that the electric prod was also used on multiple bulls and horses at the Folsom rodeo. Hot-Shot representatives state that the electric prod should NEVER be used on horses at all. We can only speculate as to Dr. Davis' motives for covering for the rodeo.
Cotton Rosser of the Flying-U Rodeo handles the animals used in the rodeo. KCRA tried to contact him but was unsuccessful. But those close to the rodeo defended the event and Rosser, saying that they have nothing to hide and both have an extremely strong track record.
Read Electric Horsemen which appeared in the February 2002 edition of the Orange County Weekly and gives more information on the history of Cotton Rosser, the corruption surrounding the Folsom rodeo, and the highly questionable conduct of the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Cotton Rosser does have "an extremely strong track record," but it is a record of rodeo animal abuse.