Frontier Days officials were asked to contact experts about use of the electric devices

Additional SHARK commentary in bold italic quotes.

November 18, 2006
Published in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle
By Jodi Rogstad 

CHEYENNE - After an incident at Cheyenne Frontier Days in July, the city has asked CFD officials to contact experts about using electric prods during the rodeo to ensure they do not cause animals to suffer.

The letter sent by city attorney Mike Basom was in response to a resident's e-mail to Cheyenne Police Chief Bob Fecht.

The resident had read an Aug. 6 Wyoming Tribune-Eagle article by Outdoors Editor Cara Eastwood, who had witnessed a stock subcontractor improperly using a Hot-Shot on horses.

Judges for the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association also apparently saw a rules violation: Main stock contractor Harry Vold was fined $500 for the actions of his subcontractor, Chad Burch of Rozet.

As this article will later state, the fine for shocking animals in chutes is supposed to be $250 for the first offense, with fines for each subsequent violation doubling. So how can there be a $500 fine? If Burch was found to have shocked two animals, that would be a $750 fine. Since the rodeo judge estimated that Burch shocked about a third of his horses, that means the fine should have been many thousands of dollars. Once again, the Frontier Days organizers and the PRCA demonstrates that their humane rules, credibility and integrity are non-existent.

The resident wanted to know if animal cruelty charges were in store for Burch.

As the next paragraph illustrates, what should be in store are criminal charges.

In a letter to CFD dated Sept. 11, Basom cites the city ordinance that prohibits using devices to get an animal to perform that would result in injury, suffering or trauma. CFD leases Frontier Park from the city, thus Basom is interested in the matter.

Basom said he does not consider himself qualified to make that call when it comes to Hot-Shot devices and horses.

"I seriously doubt that any rodeo stock grower would place their valuable inventory at risk of harm or suffering," Basom wrote.

Mr. Basom makes a false assumption that many people make about rodeos. First, the calves and steers abused in rodeos are considered to be disposable. They are relatively cheap, and they are used in the most abusive events for that reason. The bucking horses and bulls are worth more, but only if they are bucking. If they don't buck, and buck as hard as possible, they are worthless. So they are pushed to the limit and beyond. In the case of especially ruthless stock contractors like Harry Vold and Chad Burch, that includes shocking them.
As for the worth of the animals preventing stock contractors from abusing them, consider the cost of a NASCAR race car. These cars cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and yet they are pushed to the limit, which often results in the cars being damaged or destroyed. The same thing occurs in rodeos, except that the animals suffer, bleed and die.

He asked CFD to consult other rodeo stock contractors or veterinarians, Basom said.

"I believe this would be the best mechanism to resolve this issue as expediently as possible," Basom wrote.

So far, no action has been taken, said CFD Contestants Committee chairman Bill Cole, who took the job in August.

No action was taken, and no action will likely be taken. Not for 2006, which was widely reported, or for 2005, when SHARK investigators took pictures of animals being shocked and otherwise abused at the Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo.

"I want to see what his timeline is," Cole said. "I wasn't made aware of the letter until recently."

Basom said there's no rush, but he expects a discussion will take place before CFD 2007.

As for Burch, CFD isn't going to stop him from returning in 2007, Cole said.

The reason for this is that CFD doesn't concern itself with small matters such as humane violations, animal abuse or integrity.

"That would be at the discretion of the main contractor," Cole said. "We will leave that up to Mr. Vold if he wants to use Mr. Burch. That is the position we are taking."

That "position" is called "Passing the Buck."

He added that CFD is a PRCA-sanctioned rodeo, and performers and contractors are subject to their fines if they break the rules.

Fines, right. If that were true, the PRCA would publicize those fines. It doesn't because it is rare if ever that fines are issues.

On Thursday, Vold said Burch can stay. 

"As far as I'm concerned, Chad Burch and his good stock are welcome to come to any rodeo we have at any time."

Harry Vold isn't worried about small things like humane rules violations, animal abuse or integrity any more than CFD organizers are. Vold is no stranger to shocking animals. SHARK has video footage of even Harry Vold's daughter Kirsten shocking horses. SHARK's investigation of the American Royal rodeo in Kansas City, Missouri, which is a Harry Vold rodeo, included more shocking than we have ever witnessed at a rodeo.

Vold confirmed he was fined $500 by the PRCA after judges saw Burch improperly using the Hot-Shot device on horses. Since Vold was the main contractor, the fine was levied on him. He asked Burch to pay.

Perhaps Harry could explain the math on the fine. $250 for the first violation. The second violation is double -- $500 plus $250. That equals $500? What about the other violations. Apparently Rodeo Math works about the same way as Rodeo Family Values -- not very well at all.

Vold said he wasn't aware of Burch's actions at the time.

Let's call him Harry "See No Evil" Vold.

He added that he has provided stock for CFD for 31 years and had never been fined.

Harry Vold had never been fined (and wouldn't have in this case if not for the Tribune-Eagle's article), even though SHARK has repeatedly caught him violating PRCA humane rules at multiple rodeos. This demonstrates the absolute impotency of the PRCA's humane rules, and the utter absence of integrity of all involved.

"I'm sorry that it happened. I don't like it," Vold said. "The PRCA, they watch everything that takes place. They evidentially saw this happen and imposed a fine."

It is clear from the original article about this story, written by Cara Eastwood, that everyone knew that Chad Burch shocked his horses. It came as no surprise to anyone, and certainly not to Harry Vold, whose animals are regularly shocked.. And it wasn't the PRCA who saw it happen. It was reporter Cara Eastwood. Of course, the PRCA judge saw it, but he took no action whatsoever, either at the time of the infractions or thereafter.

Vold said the Hot-Shot does not hurt horses and may be used when a horse hesitates in the chute. Otherwise, the animal could explode in that confined space, causing injury to both cowboy and animal.

Contrary to Harry "See No Evil" Vold's claim, the Hot-Shot absolutely hurts horses. That's why the manufacturer of the Hot-Shot absolutely advises it not be used on equines. For that matter, the manufacturer says it should not be used at rodeos at all. Additionally, if there is a risk of a horse "exploding," the last thing you would want to do is shock him. You just open the chute gate and wait for him to leave. If you're worried about the flank strap, just flip the quick-release. Harry, do we really have to treat you like a child, or are you just playing stupid?

"If you touch him for a second, he'll straighten right up," Vold said.

If you touch Harry Vold with a Hot-Shot, he'll straighten up too. 5,000-plus volts of pain will do that. If someone did it to Harry it would be called a battery at the minimum. In the case of rodeo animals it's called animal abuse, and it happens all the time.

Since the city leases Frontier Park to CFD, the rodeo has an obligation to not open the city to possible litigation, Basom said.

The manufacturer of Hot-Shots said this summer that the product is not recommended for use on horses: It was tested for and made for cattle, which have thicker hides. But the PRCA approves its use on horses in certain circumstances.

To restate, the manufacturer of the Hot-Shot has publicly stated repeatedly that the device is not for use at rodeos.

Burch told Eastwood in July that he often ignores the Hot-Shot rule.

That's because neither Mr. Burch nor the PRCA's humane rules have any integrity or credibility.

"I think you waive your right to the Hot-Shot rule when you get on one of our critters," he said. "I'm ready (with the Hot-Shot) for each critter. Some people might call me a little hard-headed."

Mr. Burch is not hard-headed. He's just an animal abuser. That's what he and other PRCA stock contractors and others in rodeos do -- they abuse animals for a living. Mr. Burch doesn't even realize, much less care, that the Hot-Shot ban isn't for the contestant, but rather the animal. Of course, when you couldn't care less about the animals, the idea of protecting them just doesn't compute.

According to PRCA rules, "In the riding events, use of prods and similar devices is prohibited. The only exception is a known chute-stalling animal, only with the contestant's and contractor's approval, and shall be administered only by a qualified member."

The rules also state that "standard electric prods may be used only when necessary and may only touch the animal on the hip or shoulder area."

PRCA humane rules, and the humane rules of every other rodeo association are for public relations purposes only. They are ignored and utterly worthless. Even in the case of this highly publicized incident, the PRCA did not impose a proper penalty. The rodeo world has no dignity or credibility whatsoever.

According to Eastwood, Burch appeared to be using the tool or trying to use it on every animal to encourage it to burst into the arena during this year's rodeo.

The judge in the chute later estimated that Burch discharged the device on about one-third of his horses that day, although Burch admitted to only using it once.

Cindy Schonholtz, the PRCA's animal welfare representative, said this summer that the fine for improper use of a cattle prod is $250 for the first offense, and the fine doubles for the subsequent violation.

Perhaps Ms. Schonholtz would be kind enough to release the records of those who committed violations, and what they penalties were. Of course this will not happen. Nor will animal injuries and deaths be publicized, although the PRCA comes up with a baseless, phony statistic claiming that almost no aniamls are hurt. In fact, the public would be shocked if it knew the extent of animal injuries at rodeos.

No listing was found for Burch's business or home phone number. The PRCA did not respond to a request for Burch's contact information for this article.

There is a one word reason for this -- Cowardice.

When these guys are caught they run and hide. Forget the image of the strong cowboys, cause these guys aren't the real thing. These are animal abusers in Halloween costumes. Take a drive through Cheyenne, Wyoming when the rodeo isn't going on, and you don't see all this "John Wayne" nonsense. Finally, if you put these guys on a ranch and made them do ranch work, they'd starve. Rodeos are a Westernized circus, and the people involved are little more than animal abusing circus clowns.

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