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Animal rights activist claim video shows abuse at rodeo

Thursday, July 30, 1998

DAILY HERALD

By Christy Gutowski

Police in Wheaton are investigating whether rodeo animals were abused at the DuPage County Fair.

Authorities are reviewing a 10 minute videotape made by animal rights advocates. The video shows a rodeo worker repeatedly sticking bulls and horses with a sharp object just before they take center stage. Chicago Animal Rights Coalition officials say the worker is violating the Illinois Humane Care for Animals Act.

"He's tormenting, harassing and inflicting pain on these animals," said Steve Hindi, president of CHARC, which made the tape.

The advocates are calling on authorities to prosecute the downstate Lazy "C" Rodeo worker for animal cruelty.

They also are calling on the DuPage County Fair Association to eliminate the rodeo, which attracted an estimated 8,000 spectators last weekend. The group taped the rodeo last year but prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence to pursue charges. The tape showed workers using electric prods to force the bulls to perform, kicking and hooking the animals and hitting them with rods, Hindi said.

Fair organizers are standing behind the rodeo, which has never been charged with wrongdoing in the 40 years it has been coming to DuPage.

"They are just trying to find anything they can," fair manager Ellen Sietmann said.

In answer to the advocates' concerns, organizers say a veterinarian and official of the DuPage County Animal Control Department monitored the treatment of animals during the rodeo.

Hindi, though, isn't satisfied with that answer, especially because an animal control official was never contacted last weekend to watch over the rodeo.

Ardith Baker, a department manager, said sheriff's police were supposed to page the on-call animal control worker to attend only if needed.

Police said they will review the tape and work with the state's attorney's office to determine whether charges should be pursued.

"Basically, this group, CHARC, has accused a cowboy of being mean to a bull," Wheaton police Cmdr. Joe Eversole said.

Authorities should reach a decision within a week or so, he said.

The tape also was shared with fair organizers, the media and the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

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