In 1996 a team of journalists led by Frank Feldinger, a producer of the nationally syndicated television news show Hard Copy, joined SHARK for an investigation of rodeos. SHARK and Hard Copy attended a rodeo in Big Bear, California, produced by the Honeycutt Rodeo Company, a PRCA stock contractor.
SHARK video cameras exposed the usual abuses of the Rodeo Mafia, including animals shocked with 5,000 volts of pain while trapped in chutes. They also documented tail twisting, tail pulling and tail raking over fences. All of these abuses are designed to make the tame, domesticated animals act wild and mean from pain and fear. All of these abuses are denied by the Rodeo Mafia.
Immediately following the rodeo, SHARK investigators and the Hard Copy crew approached the owner of the rodeo company, who at first made the Rodeo Mafia's standard denials of abuse. When confronted with video evidence of animals being shocked, the owner said he did not know who the shocker was. That's interesting, since the shocker was the owner's son.
Once confronted, the rodeo people became very threatening. The Hard Copy crew was surprised by the viciousness of the rodeo people. One rodeo thug menaced interviewer Ed Miller with a beer bottle. Another thug made a death threat against SHARK president Steve Hindi. Their threats, vulgarities and obscenities -- caught on camera -- demonstrated the true nature of the Rodeo Mafia.
The resulting Hard Copy story exposed the Big Bear rodeo, and video clips of other rodeos around the country left no doubt in viewers' minds about the violence and cruelty of the rodeos everywhere.
At one point, the Hard Copy story split the television screen, showing the owner of the rodeo company denying any abuse of animals on one side, while video clips of those very abuses played on the other side.
The story also included the comments of veterinarian Peggy Larson, whose personal experience with rodeo animal victims added greatly to the impact of the investigative report.
The Hard Copy rodeo story caused a massive public outcry, and sent the Rodeo Mafia running for cover. Frank Feldinger produced the most accurate and damning nationally televised story exposing rodeo cruelty ever seen in the US. His work earned Hard Copy a Genesis Award from the Ark Trust, an organization that recognizes the best work on animal issues by media worldwide.
The story caused such an uproar, Hard Copy replayed the episode numerous times in the months that followed the original airing.