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Protesters claim animals used in rodeo are being abused

February 4, 1998

Pioneer Press

Ka Vang
Staff Writer

A dozen protesters traded insults with patrons of the "World's Toughest Rodeo" outside downtown St. Paul's RiverCentre Saturday night. They sparred over what animal rights activists called the physical abuse of animals used in the show.

The first two days of the three-day event have drawn protests from several local groups, including the Animal Rights Coalition. Rodeo organizers refused to comment.

The protesters alleged that straps are fastened to the animals and painful electrical shocks are applied to excite them and to get them to buck higher during the performances. The activists said he animals are very sensitive to stun-gun shocks, and that they suffer extreme pain from straps fastened to the rear and genital areas.

"The public is being fed lies," said Greg Campbell of the Chicago Animal Rights Coalition. "The rodeos play on the myth of the wild American west, but if they (members of the public) knew about the abuse, only a small group of the population would condone it. The stun gun they use are enough to knock us out of a chair."

Campbell and the others also complained about the cruelty of calf roping. It can lead to nerve damage and, in extreme cases, break a calf's neck, they said.

One of the patrons who got into a shouting match with the protesters was 17-year-old Jessica Strodtman. "They are ruining everyone's fun," said Strodtman, a Minnesota High School cowgirl. "They aren't telling the truth. We don't hurt the animals."

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