Shocking Is Cruel To Bulls

Comments Were Made During An Animal Cruelty Meeting In Peoria

November 13, 2000

Journal Star (Peoria, IL)

By Elaine Hopkins

Peoria – Animal activist Steve Hindi and his followers challenged state and Humane Society officials to enforce laws against animal cruelty occurring in rodeos.

Hindi and others attended a meeting of Cruelty Investigations A to Z, sponsored by the Humane Society of the United States, the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Federation of Humane Societies, held at the Holiday Inn City Centre on Wednesday. Lauren Malmberg of the Peoria Animal Welfare Shelter, treasurer of the federation, hosted the meeting. It attracted 116 people, said Malmberg, including both volunteers and workers who investigate cruelty to animals.

The rodeo issue was not on the agenda, but Hindi raised it anyway.

Hindi of Geneva said that officials at the Illinois Agriculture Department investigate cruelty to individually owned pets but don't focus on rodeos, even though Illinois laws ban cruelty to animals used for entertainment.

He has filmed the shocking of bulls, Hindi said, to make them buck and other rodeo abuses but the agency refuses to respond.

''We have close ups, crisp, clear footage. We have the law on our side and it's not working,'' he said. ''I want to know why.''

His questions during a session on developing evidence to prosecute cruelty were brushed off, Hindi said.

''Steve, I love some of the work you're doing but I don't see eye-to-eye with you on everything,'' said speaker Donna Ewing, president and founder of the Hooved Animal Humane Society.

''If we work with rodeos on their cruelty standards, we can come to an understanding and make it better. I don't like (calf roping,) but this is not the place to discuss some issues.'' Among the rodeos he has filmed, Hindi said, is the national high school rodeo finals in Springfield.

''We filmed the shocking of the animals. The Department of Agriculture wouldn't stop it. We've filmed (shocking) all over the state, year after year,'' he said.

Dr. David Bromwell, the state's chief veterinarian who heads humane investigations, denied the agency turns a blind eye to rodeo abuses.

''He doesn't know what we do,'' said Bromwell of Hindi.

Saying he has investigated rodeos, Bromwell added, ''They made the corrections any time I asked them for change.''

Rodeos are only a small part of animal abuses in the state, Bromwell said. ''We have more to do than trying to make a point on this particular issue.''

Others at the meeting agreed with Hindi.

''I've gone to several rodeos as a humane observer and eye-witnessed first-hand the shocking of bulls while confined in the chute,'' said Jim Beam of Rockford.

The rodeo industry has policies against abuse but it continues, he said.

''The industry says it's wrong. The humane society says it's wrong. Why doesn't the department step in?'' asked Don Hein of Barrington.